Pink burger ban - ‘Draconian’ decision or sticking to the rules?

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THE meat for the banned pink burgers comes from Buckwells of Southsea, a butcher just a few doors down from 6 oz Burgers.

Burgers served ‘pink’ have been forced off the menu at the popular burger bar by health inspectors from Portsmouth City Council over fears of a public safety risk.

6 oz Burgers owner Piotr Mientkiewicz with the chuck steak mince

6 oz Burgers owner Piotr Mientkiewicz with the chuck steak mince

After the butchers mince the meat, they vacuum-pack it before delivery.

Buckwells owner John Buckwell said the burgers were made from top-quality cuts.

‘We give them the best meat we can,’ he said.

‘I can understand what they are saying about undercooked burgers but I think that if the customers are aware of any risk involved it should be their choice.’

They don’t understand the ethos of independent restaurants.

Carol Godsmark

Mr Buckwell explained that pink steak was generally safe to eat because the surface of the meat was always seared, killing off any harmful bacteria.

But when meat is minced, more surface area is exposed, including the pink meat at the centre of the 6 oz Burgers’ popular dishes.

However, the restaurant’s directors say the meat is minced, stored and cooked so quickly and hygienically that the risk of bad bacteria in the burger was very small.

They said children’s burgers were always cooked through to avoid any risk.

The News’ food critic Carol Godsmark called the council’s order ‘draconian’.

Ms Godsmark said it was part of a trend of environmental officers not trusting smaller restaurants.

‘They don’t understand the ethos of independent restaurants,’ she said. ‘They simply don’t trust them because they don’t have the same kinds of kitchens as chains.’

Ms Godsmark said she had also heard of food safety officers cracking down on independent restaurants serving beef tartare while chains were allowed to keep it on the menu.

She said pink burgers were commonly served elsewhere.

‘I can remember going to all sorts of burger places in London where they serve them medium rare,’ she said.

‘If you go the States, they would laugh in your face if you told them you could only cook burgers well done.’

Steve Wearne, director of food policy at the Food Standards Agency, said there were no rules against restaurants offering rare or medium-rare burgers, but they needed to be able to show that they prepared and served them safely.