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Draft guidance for consultation: Less than thoroughly cooked beef burgers

Sous vide cooking method

What a sous vide cooking method is and how it can be used for beef burgers which appear to be less than thoroughly cooked.

Last updated: 27 January 2022

Sous vide consists of placing food in a vacuum sealed bag, then cooking it in a water bath. The food is cooked for a longer time and at a lower temperature than conventionally cooked food. Beef burgers cooked this way may look pink in the middle, despite being cooked to a time/temperature combination equivalent to 70°C for two minutes. Meats are often quickly grilled or fried after the sous vide process to caramelise and/or give the browned appearance expected by the consumer.

Best practice
Businesses may wish to appoint an expert food safety consultant as sous vide is a complex process and must be carefully controlled to ensure it is safe.

The sous vide system must be validated before it is introduced to check it will work as intended. Checks must be carried out to ensure the beef burgers consistently achieve a time/ temperature combination of 70°C for two minutes or equivalent.

Handling and storage of the burgers after cooking must be hygienic. Businesses are advised to refer to the guidance on vacuum packed foods and the E. coli cross-contamination guidance.

Best practice
It is best practice to provide a consumer message to explain that the business has used specific cooking methods to produce beef burgers which appear to be less than thoroughly cooked. This is to help consumers understand that cooking pink burgers at home is not recommended.

We are consulting on this draft guidance. Take part in our burgers guidance consultation.