Ad Hoc Group on Raw, Rare and Low Temperature Cooked Foods meeting 15 March 2013

Summary of the fifth meeting of the group.

Introduction

At this meeting the group considered outputs from previous discussions on low temperature cooked foods and began discussion on foods served raw or rare.

Low temperature cooking

The group discussed their conclusions on risk assessment for low temperature cooking. It was clarified that the group’s output would be a paper to the main ACMSF. Any work involving risk management would be for the FSA to decide.

Food served raw and rare

Outbreak data

The Secretariat was unable to obtain information on outbreaks linked to the consumption of dishes containing raw meat or fish. However the group was provided with data on chicken liver parfait and a few other outbreaks reported from other countries.

The group agreed that their report should point to the fact that, although there were gaps in the data, cases of food poisoning related to lightly cooked foods of the chicken liver parfait type had risen in recent years which would indicate that there was a potential problem with this kind of dish. There were trends in cooking practice and an increase in consumption of the type of foods that may present an increased risk. There was particular concern where these types of food were being produced by small-scale producers or in the home where awareness of the potential risks may be more limited.

The group discussed the types of food served raw or rare they would include in their considerations. Whilst acknowledging that there were a number of methods that could be included, such as air-drying, salting, curing, and fermentation, they concluded that their focus should be on foods that were untreated or minimally processed with regard to the application of heat.

The group was aware of methods of producing burgers which were undercooked or cooked by a sous-vide method by first searing the outside of the meat and then paring this away and using the raw middle. They queried what evidence there was that this produced a safe product. Members requested information on the internalisation of micro-organisms in whole pieces of red and white meat.

Risk assessments and advice for cooking burgers

Members discussed various risk assessments of foods served raw and rare and advice for cooking burgers. The report on microbiological hazards associated with biltong and similar dried meat products produced for the FSA by Campden BRI was endorsed as a useful report. Members acknowledged that the E.coli O157:H7 in beef burgers produced in the Republic of Ireland: A quantitative microbial risk assessment was a good report. The report described how a quantitative microbial risk assessment model was developed for E.coli O157:H7 in beef burgers in the Republic of Ireland. Members agreed that the ACMSF report on the safe cooking of burgers published in 2007 should be the basis for the group to work from in relation to safe cooking of meat.

Members discussed the recent trends in gourmet burgers being offered rare/pink contrary to the current FSA advice on cooking burgers.