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Burger controls unnecessary?

View profile for Tim Russ
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An FSA decision could lead to unnecessary and excessive controls on meat suppliers.

During a meeting on 9 September the FSA Board considered a range of controls for businesses when they are serving ‘rare’ mince following an increase in demand from consumers for pink gourmet burgers.

The Board decided that the preparation and service of rare burgers in food outlets is unacceptable unless a validated and verified food safety management plan is in place.

The decision could easily result in catering butchers and cutting plants being pushed into implementing overly forceful controls that go well above legislative requirements. The past has shown that the Agency has a tendency to impose strict controls, and instruct local authorities to do the same, as seen with raw cow’s milk earlier this year.

The details of the decision are as follows:

  • businesses wanting to serve burgers rare will be required to notify their local authority in advance;
  • Suppliers of mince which is intended for consumption rare or lightly cooked will be required to provide to the FSA Board details of controls they have in place;
  • effective and consistent consumer advisory statements will be required on menus where rare burgers are served;
  • an FSA communications plan will be implemented to explain the risks and controls to the public;
  • infection rates will continue to be kept under close review and any changes brought to the attention of the Board.

In our view, an appropriate HACCP-based food safety management system is sufficient for analysing and dealing with any risks associated with producing and selling rare burgers.  Whatever the FSA does, it must ensure that food producers and processors are not burdened with superfluous and costly requirements when they are already complying with necessary safety standards.