Ad Hoc Group on Raw, Rare and Low Temperature Cooked Foods meeting 22 April 2013

Summary of the 6th meeting of the group

Food served raw or rare

At this meeting Members considered further information from the PHE on outbreaks that had been attributed by PHE to inadequate cooking. Some types of dish were implicated in outbreak data more frequently than others. In part this may be as a result of the dishes being served more frequently now than in the past, for example chicken liver parfait.

Members agreed that there was generally thought to be a greater risk with eating raw meat than with eating it cooked but there were a number of factors that would affect the risk from eating the food raw, such as the source of the meat, how it is handled, and prepared.

Advice on cooking burgers and other comminuted meat products

The group considered the ACMSF report on the safe cooking of burgers and agreed the conclusions in that report were still valid. They also discussed the risks from steak tartare and a recent method of preparing burgers known as “sear and shave”.

The group also discussed internalisation of pathogens in whole cuts of meat and given the lack of evidence on whether muscle can contain internal pathogens may wish to recommend research in this area.
Meats that are often served rare such as duck and game were also discussed and it was noted that more research was needed on what pathogens are likely to be present and at what level in these meats.

Low temperature cooking

The group considered updated data on heat inactivation which supported the fact that some pathogens can be killed at temperatures down to 60°C as long as an adequate cook time is used, but some organisms will grow at temperatures below 60°C, for example Clostridium perfringens which will grow at 52°C. The group considered that the evidence they had reviewed so far suggested that it was unsafe to extrapolate the time/temperature combination of 70°C for 2 minutes to values below 60°C.

Members’ attention was also drawn to updated guidelines on cook-chill that were published by FSAI in 2006.