Next thing you know, they will ban rare steaks

Council jobsworths with clipboards are setting about telling diners what they can and can’t order…they are cracking down on gourmet burgers and punters ordering the meat rare.

[C]ouncil officials are cracking down on the freedom to choose how your burger is done, warning restaurants not to offer them rare or even medium-rare.

A number of celebrity chefs are affected by the move, including Gordon Ramsay, whose Maze Grill restaurant sells a burger for £12, Angela Hartnett, whose York and Albany’s bar menu includes burgers, and the Soho House chain, run by Nick Jones, the husband of broadcaster Kirsty Young.

All face being asked at their next routine inspection how they offer their burgers after the decision by Westminster city council, which regulates food safety in more restaurants than any other local authority.

The decision is expected to be followed by other councils, but critics fear it could lead to questions over the safety of rare steaks and raw meat dishes such as steak tartare.

The policy is to be the subject of a legal ruling.

After routine inspections by environmental health officers, Westminster council challenged the way Davy’s was serving its £13.95 burgers at one of its restaurants in central London. Davy’s has taken the case to the High Court, which experts say could set a legal precedent as to whether or not diners will be able to order meat rare.

A Davy’s spokesman said: “The burgers are produced from high quality ingredients and Davy’s contends that it has safe measures in place to serve rare or medium-rare burgers.”

James Armitage, the council’s food health and safety manager, said: “This is about making sure customers are eating meat that is not a threat to their health. It is possible to produce burgers that can be eaten undercooked, but strict controls are essential.

“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.”

But John Cadieux, the executive head chef for the Burger and Lobster chain, said: “If you follow the guidelines to the letter then you’re going to destroy the burger industry.“

Not only that but you’re opening a Pandora’s box, because where do you finish? Steak tartare, runny eggs … the list is endless.”


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • ConwayCaptain

    Try that in S America!!! 30 secs a side and on the plate!!!
    As long as the customer knows that there is a slight possibility of e coli then it is up to them the customer.
    I like my steaks BLUE. Steak has been served undercooked for YEARS. The Navla Club (ex RNVR Club) in Hill St London serves the BEST cold roast beef in London. Still bloody in the centre. Try and get the ex Naval Types to change, No Bloody Way. I was the yongest ever member at 16. I was a member so that I could stay overnight on my way to and from Conway to Jersey.

  • Muffin

    so just when are people going to start to realise that local body polititions and council staff are overstepping their boundies and need a good hard slap to the ground!

    • Bunswalla

      Only if the ground is covered with that rubbery compound made up of minced car-tyres, so they don’t hurt their precious selves.

  • Gazzaw

    What next? Well done oysters?

    I can’t believe that this sort of mindless bureaucracy is allowed to flourish on Boris’ watch.

    • JimboBug

      Boris is Mayor of London and therefore heads up the London Assembly. This is Westminster council so not necessarily under Boris’ remit.

  • What a joke, with the amount of precautions eating places take these days (one case of proven food poisoning by the restaurant and it is basically over) I highly doubt such cases will occur (although KFC is another matter).

    In my own experience you are more likely to get food poisoning either from your own kitchen or not sanitising your hands after handling money. Think did you wash your hands before you sat down to your meal, or did you just sit down, order and eat…

    Personal safety starts with the consumer…

    • Mr_Blobby

      Your right, it starts with the individual. But we are told that it really starts with some unemployable fucktard inspector, who knows best, whats worse we are conditioned to believe them. Little better than an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

      • Rodger T

        I for one,am looking forward to when some little clipboard wielding twat turns up when I order a medium rare steak.

  • MarcWills

    To be fair, people who choose to eat raw beef in the UK probably already have mad cow disease. However, if you do eat raw, unpasteurised, or street vendor food, it is your choice – the best the authorities should do is make sure people are aware of the potential consequences.

    There is an interesting report in the NZ Horrid this morning about a severe case of ciguatera poisoning from eating reef fish in Fiji. A problem which has been known about for many years, but there has never been much warning about it to the public so most people would never heed the first signs – a numbing sensation in the mouth while eating. Long story short – if you go overseas, make sure you take out comprehensive medical insurance.

  • Anonymouse Coward

    I would not eat a rare burger unless I knew the cow, butcher, and chef personally.

    What are the bug count results for the swabs taken by the slaughterhouse or restaurant? Does everyone who works at the slaughterhouse or restaurant wash their hands after going to the dunny?

    • JimboBug

      I love proper rare burgers and am aware of the risk and am happy to take it for the love of good food. You sound like the sort of person who carries that antibacterial gel around with them.

      I do remember ordering a rare burger in New York and being asked to sign a legal disclaimer before they could order it (the menu referred you to some legalese at the bottom of the page as well). I decided that if they have that little trust in their chefs and suppliers that it may not be the best place to eat anyway so left and had a very nice burger, cooked rare, at a different establishment – without the requirement to sign anything (although there was the same legalese at the bottom of the menu).

  • Goldie

    Someone who wants to eat a rare burger is really really stupid. The mincing/grinding takes any E.Coli on the surface and pushes it through the entire mince, and so the entire burger patty is exposed to bacteria, and has to be cooked to 160-degrees to kill the bacteria.

    A rare steak is fine (mmmmmmm) though make sure the surface of the meat has been cooked.

  • cows4me

    Cut it’s horns off, wipe it’s arse and it’s about done.

  • Mr_Blobby

    Yes the same shit happens here. An army of bureaucrats
    running around like they are gods with god like power. Only they have not
    actually solved anything and are actually a big part of the problem. People
    still get sick despite all the regulations and other bullshit. This applies to
    other areas as well take liquor licensing despite all the power these clowns
    have people still get pissed and fall over. Take road safety we issue tickets
    like it is going out of fashion, in a revenue grab, and still people die on the
    roads. The road toll drops and they claim success. In reality it is probably
    more to do with safer roads and cars than anything some clown does on the side
    of the road.

    Having travelled to other countries, tropical countries,
    that have very little in the way of food safety, no warrant of fitness checks
    for cars, and other regulations etc. Imagine my surprise when I find very few
    problems with food safety, less refrigeration, higher traffic speeds, and half
    our road toll.