BURGERS served ‘pink’ have been forced off the menu at a popular burger bar, sparking a furore and a legal battle.
Health inspectors from Portsmouth City Council have demanded the restaurant, 6 oz Burgers, in Osborne Road, Southsea, stop serving burgers with their centres undercooked fearing a public safety risk.
But the restaurant’s directors have dismissed the claims, vowing to fight the ‘hygiene emergency prohibition order’ they got earlier this month.
James Baldry, 32, of Southsea and Piotr Mientkiewicz, 33, of Milton, opened the burger bar in August last year.
Mr Baldry said since then they had served more than 20,000 burgers, of which about 90 cent have been served ‘pink’ to enhance the flavour – a method he says is used by many other burger restaurants.
He said: ‘We do everything we can in-house and in sourcing meat to prevent any risk of bacteria.
We have very high standards and nobody has become ill.James Baldry
‘We have very high standards and nobody has become ill. It’s the smallest of risks but there are risks when eating most foods. We do give people a choice and if you wish to eat it pink it should be your choice.’
After health officer Christopher Larkin and a colleague inspected 6 oz Burgers last week, they forced its owners to sign the order or face closure.
The burger bar continues to open, but diners now have to walk past a health notice next to the door.
Mr Baldry said they planned to sue the council for defamation and loss of business.
He said he knew of at least five other restaurants around Portsmouth which offered pink burgers.
Burger chain Davy’s – which has 26 restaurants across London – had a similar order overturned by the courts last year. Mr Baldry said the legal bill for fighting the order would drain the money they had saved to open a second restaurant.
Council environmental health manager Richard Lee said: ‘This is an issue we’re looking at citywide following advice from the national Food Standards Agency, which is that undercooked meat should be regarded as unsafe unless a proper method is used to make it safe.’
Mr Larkin’s order to the restaurant said the practice of undercooking burgers was a health risk.
It said: ‘The practice of serving undercooked burgers is not supported by an appropriate and robust HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points)-based food safety management system which includes validated control measures, in addition to an effective cooking process to minimise the bacterial loading of the mince used and so remove the risk to public safety.’
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