TWO restaurant owners are embroiled in a court battle over the sale of pink burgers.
Piotr Mientkiewicz and James Baldry’s restaurant 6oz Burgers in Osborne Road, Southsea, has been taken to court by Portsmouth City Council over ‘undercooked burgers’.
The pair had served pink burgers but the council wants a civil order – called a hygiene emergency prohibition order – banning them from doing so.
It claims the owners do not have a food safety management system in place. They cannot currently serve the burger.
Yesterday the pair were before a judge at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court to defend their offering.
Experts told the court there was a way food premises could serve undercooked burgers – by having a robust food safety management system in place and by telling customers.
Giving evidence, Michael Jackson from the Food Standards Agency said: ‘The position is that, in law, the serving of burgers which are less than fully cooked is not in itself illegal.
‘But there’s an overarching obligation that the food that they place on the mark is fit for consumption and they’ve a food safety system that reflects that.’
The court heard an FSA advisory notice to councils said food business operators should cook a burger at 70 degrees centigrade for two minutes – if it did not then the customers must be told and the business must document its process, including details of how the mince was sourced.
The court heard the meat used – branded as Harmony Farm was processed at ABP abattoir in Ireland before being transported in vacuum packaging by distributor Weddel Swift to Buckwells butchers in Southsea.
Dr Jim McLaughlin, from Public Health England, a lead microbiologist said there was ‘absolutely’ alternatives to making sure meat was safe other than by cooking at 70 degrees but it would not guarantee safety. He said this relied on the supply chain being accounted for. He said there was a risk of contamination at each stage of the process. (Proceeding)