Why could should never eat a pink burger – and how to check when they’re cooked

"Yeah I think they’re done. You can eat beef rare anyway so it will be fine."

If you’ve had a barbecue before there’s a good chance this might sound a bit familiar.

People across the country will be digging out the barbecues and tucking into burgers, sausages and kebabs in the garden to make the most of the beautiful weather.

But according to food experts there’s one thing we need to be extra careful when cooking – burgers.

Everyone knows you can eat a steak rare so surely it’s the same for burgers, right?


It turns out it’s actually a very different story and eating one which hasn’t been cooked thoroughly can cause serious food poisoning.

It’s different in restaurants, as they can put strict controls on the way burgers are cooked but we can’t do this when we’re cooking on the barbecue.

According to the Food Standards Agency ‘s website, burgers which are served rare or undercooked may contain harmful bacteria which could make you very poorly.

It explains: "Harmful bacteria can be carried on the surface of whole cuts of meat. When a rare steak is seared these bacteria are killed, making the steak safe to eat.

"When meat is minced to produce burgers, any harmful bacteria from the surface of the raw meat spread throughout the burger. Unless the burger is cooked right through, these bacteria can remain alive on the inside.

"This applies to all burgers, including burgers made from good quality or expensive meat.

"That’s why a burger needs to be served well done, while a steak can be served rare."

And it’s not just cheap meat which causes problems.

Contamination can start at any point of the process, including during the slaughter.

There is no way of knowing which animals carry harmful bacteria in their gut.

How to check if a burger is cooked properly

There are a few simple checks you can do on your burgers to check they’re ready to eat.

  • cut the burger in the middle and check none of the meat inside is pink
  • check all the juices run clear
  • make sure the burgers are steaming hot all the way through.

You can also reduce the chances of getting food poisoning by avoiding cross-contamination.

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To do this, make sure you:

  • keep raw meat separate from cooked meat
  • store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the shelf and keep it covered
  • use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked meat
  • watch your hands after touching raw meat.

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