Burger and fries

Rare Burger Restrictions

The humble burger. Although its exact invention still remains a contentious issue, with some suggesting it is a German creation from Hamburg and others saying it originated in America in the late 19th century, one thing remains the same – they are enjoyed by millions all around the world.

Fans of those delightful delicious disks will certainly be interested to hear about the potential change to burger ordering. There has been a great deal of media attention surrounding the burger this week, namely to do with the traces of horse meat that were found in some. This however is not the focus today. We are looking into one of the classic questions when ordering a burger “how would you like it?” For many, a simple ‘medium’ will suffice, but the option to have the burger cooked medium-rare or rare remains ever popular. However, from 1993 this was not a viable option in North Carolina, USA.

The ban stated that no rare or medium-rare be served at any establishment. State restrictions required that all ground meat be cooked to an internal temperature of 70 Degrees Celsius, which is the temperature that bacteria such as E. Coli are be killed. This law did not affect home cooked burgers, with residents given the option to have rare burgers in the comfort of their own homes. However, restaurants were often very cautious of cooking burger anything less than medium-well done so the rare burger was virtually a thing of the past in North Carolina.iStock_000011996426XSmall

The reason for this caution is that ground meat can contain bacteria such as salmonella and Escherichia Coli, which can both cause serious food poisoning in humans. The difference between steaks and ground meat is that outside bacteria is killed during the cooking of a steak whereas with ground meat the bacteria could be mixed in and therefore could be unaffected by cooking if the meat is left rare.

This ban meant that North Carolinians were forced to go out of state for their rare burger fix. Interestingly the restriction did not come with the threat of fines but rather any restaurant found not to be sticking to the rules would have their restaurant grade changed, which could eventually lead to the restaurant being closed down.

Last year, after nearly 10 years of the ban, North Carolina actually changed their stance on rare burgers. They moved to coincide with the federal law which means that any establishment offering rare or medium rare burgers must clearly let the customer know that they are ordering food that isn’t cooked to recommended safe levels to kill bacteria such as Salmonella.

iStock_000008906736XSmallFor fans of the rare burger this may seem like the end of the matter – until at the end of last year the Westminster council started to crack down on rare and medium-rare burger in the city of London. This has led to many restaurants refusing to sell undercooked burgers in case the council decides to take further actions. The council has stated that they have not officially banned rare and medium-rare burgers and are just intending to make people more aware, however, some worry that it wont be long before rare burgers are a thing of the past in the UK. Those who are against such action argue that the flavour is drastically affected and that people should be able to choose how they want their food prepared. This has also led many to say that it is an example of too much government control and at what point will it end – will steaks be next on the list?

How would you feel if such a ban was put into place? Are you a fan of rare burgers or do you think it is better that all meat is cooked to a standard defined safe level?




Posted on: January 17, 2013 | by: Ed
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About the Author

A man of many words.



  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.britnell Alan P Britnell

    It should be a matter of choice – Not the Nanny state!

  • Chris Angus

    Uncooked or undercooked mincemeat carries a high risk of Ecoli and Salmonella which most people are not aware of. If restaurants want to serve meat which could poison people, then they should warn people of the risks.

  • Chezaranta

    I work in a restaurant in Piccadilly Circus and my head chef has decided to offer only med to well or well done burguers, nothing else. Apart from the health issues, it is done this way because of the pressure the council is putting on us, as they are doing with all the restaurants in Central London

  • http://www.tastescatering.co.uk/ London-Caterer

    This is a bad news for both the chefs and their customers. These burgers are very delicious and they are always in great demand. however, given the contents of many a burger the option of rare/medium etc would seem the least of the problems.

  • faisa

    it is lovely .

  • Wheres the Liberty?

    I personally like my burger medium to well, but think its a joke that the government should ban rare burgers, this is a typical example of too much government control. They cant even make sure the meat is pure beef but they want to dictate how its cooked? The FSA is a joke organisation anyway, look at the state of our food GM MSG E numbers etc you would swear they are actually out to to cause harm. I don’t trust them. Do you?

  • ilpugliese

    It’s a precursor to make us all vegetarians. Face it, councils are composed of control freaks. There is nothing like a juicy burger or steak hache.

  • JustSaying

    Some of the best chefs have even stopped serving liver because they various borough councils around the country are forcing them to overcooking it.

    It really angers me because, even though there are risks to be considered, they are still the individual’s to take. They are taking away freedom of choice so to speak.

    It’s laughable that the people in council offices making these rules that affect Michelin star restaurants would probably not even be able to afford or appreciate such a fine dining experience.

    Maybe we should stop letting Mickey Mouse tell the professionals how to cook!

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