Landmark ruling over serving rare burgers

Food-Meals-5616577_sA burger restaurant is facing closure after its owners lost a landmark £125,000 court battle over whether it can serve its medium and rare burgers. They had launched a legal challenge against Portsmouth City Council after being served a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, which banned them from selling their burgers medium/rare. However, after a four day court case at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court, a judge ruled that the council was simply 'doing its duty' due to the risk involved in serving 'undercooked' burgers.

"This case demonstrates that the local authority, Portsmouth City Council were judged to have taken the correct action in serving a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice on the 6oz Burger Company who were serving rare burgers without being able to demonstrate that they had a robust, validated system in place to ensure food safety. The judge was satisfied that the health risk condition existed when the notice was served. Following this it is likely that other local authorities will be encouraged to take action where they feel there is a risk to the public from rare burgers from establishments that have not put into place the necessary controls to produce a safe burger which is less well cooked.” Lisa Ackerley, Food Safety Expert, BHA

The FSA have also recently announced that businesses will have to display an advisory notice when serving medium or rare burgers, even if they have robust control systems in place. The BHA are planning to contest this as it has no legal standing because unsafe food is an offence regardless; it doesn’t make the product any safer, and it causes an unnecessary burden to businesses. Views of members will be sought.

The BHA has detailed Q&A on this subject to help members determine what they may need to produce such a system, and we are working with suppliers, our Primary Authority and stakeholders as more information on safe production methods unfolds. Click here to access the Q&A.

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