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Shocking food news from London!
Old 12-10-2012, 10:09 AM   #1
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Shocking food news from London!

Well, I don't usually eat burgers when traveling, but I do enjoy raw beef and prefer my cooked beef medium rare. If this becomes the norm I may have to rethink a visit to London.

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Restaurants who offer rare or medium-rare burgers face a grilling from a London council after it decided to crack down on them for food safety reasons.

Westminster city council is taking action over the freedom to choose how your burger is done, with other local authorities expected to follow suit.
Westminster council cracks down on rare and medium-rare burgers - London - News - London Evening Standard
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:18 AM   #2
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It's insane. I've been in restaurants in the US that refused my order of fried eggs, sunny side up "because of the risk of salmonella."
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:20 AM   #3
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You're probably not surprised though. Evidently there have been bans on rare burgers in many USA areas, I know CA & NC at least attempted "laws" - I think NC enacted one, and then rescinded somewhat recently.

And I've been seeing "consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness" on many US menus in the past several years, sometimes with *'s pointing to certain menu choices. I believe the statement or one like it is mandatory in some places.

I usually go with med-rare for a steak, or medium for a hamburger. My fav local non-chain burger place is very uneasy with rare, even though they only offer local grass fed beef (IOW, they know precisely where it comes from and how it's raised/processed/handled), but they will do medium rare reluctantly. Many decent burger places don't ask 'how would you like that cooked' anymore and I assume med or med-well are the defaults, or incinerated at fast food places...
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:30 AM   #4
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You're probably not surprised though. Evidently there have been bans on rare burgers in many USA areas...
I always order burgers medium well or well done because I like the charred outside but also because ground meat has the possibility if being contaminated, while steaks don't.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:32 AM   #5
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I always order burgers medium well or well done because I like the charred outside but also because ground meat has the possibility if being contaminated, while steaks don't.

+1.... you do not want to get your rare meat using ground...
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:42 AM   #6
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There is nothing new or shocking about this, unless one has never heard of hamburger disease.

"Hamburger disease" is not uncommon in people who eat undercooked burgers. It is due to contamination of ground meat with E. coli 0157, which is frequently present in animal intestines. This can be a moderately serious problem (bloody stools) or a very serious one (kidney failure) due to the E. coli 0157 toxin. 20 years ago, my godson had hamburger disease as a three year old, and was on dialysis for months. He was hypertensive for a couple of years but thankfully made a full recovery. There have been large outbreaks which have been major public health problems. This is not a trivial problem, but it is preventable. I agree with the Westminster Council.

More here:

Escherichia coli O157:H7 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hamburger Disease - Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome - HUS
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:32 AM   #7
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No problems for me - - I am one of those customers that causes waiters to raise their eyebrows and chefs to despair, because I always order beef or pork well done. Supposedly that is detrimental to the taste, but I like it that way. Pink in the middle? Send it back.

Nice to hear that well done meat might be healthier sometimes, too.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:35 AM   #8
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I always order burgers medium well or well done because I like the charred outside but also because ground meat has the possibility if being contaminated, while steaks don't.
Same here. I like my steaks medium, but burgers have to be well done.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:08 PM   #9
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I also ask for my minced (ground) beef to be medium well, and have noticed some places around here who state on their menu that burgers will not be served rare or medium rare.

From the article in the OP, it really is the ground beef that is at issue here, although I would have no problem in simply requiring a warning to be posted on the menu.

Quote:
“We have enlisted the UK’s top expert on E. coli, Prof Hugh Pennington, to get this matter resolved and he has outlined that rare minced meat that is not correctly cooked and prepared can kill.”
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:48 PM   #10
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It does seem burgers are a greater concern than other cuts of beef. I would imagine those other cuts, like steaks, are generally safe once they are seared on the outside even if they are still light red inside.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:49 PM   #11
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This is one of those subjects like forced wearing of seat belts, "helmet laws" and all the well-intentioned "protect us from ourselves" laws. I'm almost rabidly against ALL of them as a matter of principle, BUT I've come to support them for one simple reason. When something DOES go wrong with free-will choice (e.g., the brain-dead-but-not-dead motorcycle rider who refused to wear a helmet) guess who pays for his care? Someone scoops him off the pavement, airlifts him to the best trauma center, plugs him in and turns him every 2 hours for the next 20 years. Guess who pays for all of this care? You and I do. Probably through increased insurance premiums and certainly though higher HC costs and particularly for the taxes attributed to Medicaid, etc.

I've always thought helmets, seat belts, proper cooking, etc. etc., should be left to the individual to decide. But, I also think the individual should pay for consequences of behaviors generally recognized as dangerous. I'm sure we could fantasize grey-area scenarios and situations in which someone is injured and needs "public" assistance. I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the ones where we have the (reams of) data to back it up. We've known since (officially) 1964 that cigarettes are "bad" for us, we've known about seat belts and helmets since the late 60's, etc. I don't advocate for the 16oz Pepsi Police to take away my Big Gulp. But, if my health insurance company wants to charge more for folks who drink too many Big Gulps (etc., etc.), I think that's okay as along as they can justify it with accepted data.

With freedom comes responsibility. But, of course, this is America, so YMMV.

Oh, end of rant.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:12 PM   #12
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I've always thought helmets, seat belts, proper cooking, etc. etc., should be left to the individual to decide. But, I also think the individual should pay for consequences of behaviors generally recognized as dangerous.
That's easy for an adult to say. What about my three year old godson? Would you hold him responsible for his own kidney failure? What's more, he was the child of very responsible parents who would never knowingly do anything to put him at risk.

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With freedom comes responsibility. But, of course, this is America, so YMMV.
I thought the original post was about London, England.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:26 PM   #13
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It does seem burgers are a greater concern than other cuts of beef. I would imagine those other cuts, like steaks, are generally safe once they are seared on the outside even if they are still light red inside.
This is usually true except for instances where the restaurant uses a "pinning" machine to tenderize the steaks. In this case what's on the outside ends up inside.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:33 PM   #14
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Local places that grind their own beef in house are permitted to offer cooked-to-order burgers, but only those are exempt from the medium or more laws around here.

I am so sorry about your godson Mead--I'd be very nervous to the point of paranoia about making sure kids didn't eat undercooked meat or eggs, or even unpasteurized milk, all of which I will eat if I know the origins.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:38 PM   #15
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And here in the US, seems I recall hearing just the opposite, with concerns being raised for overly cooked charbroiled beef causing cancer.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:43 PM   #16
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+1 (I always order burgers medium well or well done because I like the charred outside but also because ground meat has the possibility of being contaminated, while steaks don't.)

From CDC:
Cook meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F/70˚C. Use a thermometer to verify the temperature, as color is not a very reliable indicator of how thoroughly meat has been cooked.

From me: Meat is generally contaminated on the surface and the contamination is easily neutralized when the temperature reaches 160F but when it is ground for hamburgers, etc then the E. coli and other harmful pathogens are ground deep inside where they won't be subjected to the necessary temperatures. Odds are the hamburger you eat is not contaminated but it only takes the one time...
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:18 PM   #17
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That's easy for an adult to say. What about my three year old godson? Would you hold him responsible for his own kidney failure? What's more, he was the child of very responsible parents who would never knowingly do anything to put him at risk.
I agree. When products are used (or in this case, prepared) as intended and still represent a danger, regulations play a critical part of safety.
Quote:
I thought the original post was about London, England.
Right.

Meadbh, what happened to your godson is quite unfortunate, and very good reason for the regulation. I'll qualify my remarks and rethink my views regarding raw beef.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:23 PM   #18
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It does seem burgers are a greater concern than other cuts of beef. I would imagine those other cuts, like steaks, are generally safe once they are seared on the outside even if they are still light red inside.
I always thought it was the internal temperature of the meat. 160 degrees for beef is what I've always used. You can cook it so the internal temperature is sufficient for the beef to be adequately cooked but still pink inside.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:31 PM   #19
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And here in the US, seems I recall hearing just the opposite, with concerns being raised for overly cooked charbroiled beef causing cancer.
Difference being that you have to eat a lot of overly cooked beef for you to increase your chances of cancer.

One burger with live e-coli can be deadly. From October this year in N. Carolina. (note that the source of the bacteria was never determined, but is an example of what a batch of contaminated food can do)

Quote:
State health officials say one child died last week and 37 other people, including 22 children, were sickened in an E. coli outbreak tied to the Cleveland County Fair.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/us...d-to-fair.html
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:41 PM   #20
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I agree. When products are used (or in this case, prepared) as intended and still represent a danger, regulations play a critical part of safety.
Right.

Meadbh, what happened to your godson is quite unfortunate, and very good reason for the regulation. I'll qualify my remarks and rethink my views regarding raw beef.
Thanks Midpack. I'm glad to say he made a full recovery and is now a healthy young man. The type of kidney failure he experienced was Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) which is the commonest type of kidney failure in children. The prognosis is better in children than in adults.

More info about HUS:

Hemolytic-uremic syndrome - PubMed Health

I, for one, am always pleased to learn new things on the Forum and I am happy to share what I know.
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