Less than thoroughly cooked beef burgers: advice for caterers and supply chain establishments

Last updated:
6 May 2016
If you plan to produce and sell beef burgers that are not thoroughly cooked, eg ‘rare’ or ‘medium’ or pink in the middle, or you are involved in the supply chain of these product, read our advice to help you control any harmful bacteria that is in or on the meat. The advice is also for any food safety officer inspecting your business.

Our advice

Restaurants, pubs and any other food outlet or catering setting serving less than thoroughly cooked beef burgers and, must have systems in place which either:

  • Offer the same level of protection as the recommendations made by the FSA’s independent advisory committee – even where burgers remain pink in the middle (the recommendations can be found below), or;
  • Involve controls throughout the supply chain to minimise or reduce the risk of contamination of meat used to make burgers, and a process or processes that achieve a significant reduction of bacteria in your catering setting, alongside messages that explain to your customers the potential risks from burgers that are not thoroughly cooked.

The service of beef burgers is only acceptable when either of the above is demonstrated.

Guidance and model system

On this page you can find links to:

  • guidance on the safe production of beef burgers in catering establishments
  • model food safety management system (HACCP) for meat processors (12 model documents)
  • clean cattle and red meat safety leaflets
  • recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety

Model food safety management system (HACCP) for meat processors

Clean cattle and red meat safety leaflets

Recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety

Background information

The sale and consumption of burgers served less than thoroughly cooked and rare or pink in the middle is a trend that has been steadily increasing in the UK.
In September 2015, the FSA Board were asked to consider the issue of serving less than thoroughly cooked burgers in food outlets and catering settings  including restaurants and pubs.

This led to the FSA producing the above advice for food business operators on safe systems for serving beef burgers less than thoroughly cooked, and for enforcement officers that carry out official controls at these establishments.

This advice will provide greater consistency for food business operators in terms of the types of systems they can put in place and enforcement, where required.