Research conducted by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) last summer reveals that over 5 million citizens of Great Britain are at risk for foodborne illness linked to undercooked hamburgers. The survey results were released just as the UK was celebrating National Burger Day last week.

The study consisted of 26 participants via their mobile phones when they were in restaurants, followed up by online discussion; and a survey of 2,708 respondents using the FSA’s Consumer Panel. All strands of research engaged consumers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and took place in from June 2015 through July 2015. Notable findings include the following:

  • While 71 percent of Brits say they have legitimate concerns about food poisoning, 36 percent of them admit they would eat a hamburger that is not fully cooked.
  • Over 10 percent say they actually prefer hamburgers that are not fully cooked.
  • 81 percent of surveyed Brits say they do not thoroughly cook their hamburgers at home.
  • 25 percent admit that even though they don’t normally consume rare hamburgers, they would still eat one if it was given to them.
  • 32 percent of Brits incorrectly believe that eating a rare burger is the same as a rare steak when it comes to foodborne illness risk.

“It’s important that people realize that burgers are not like steak,” says Steve Wearne, FSA’s director of policy. “Harmful bacteria can be carried on the surface of cuts of meat. When a rare steak is seared these bacteria are killed, but burger meat is minced so bacteria from the surface of the raw meat gets mixed all the way through the burger. These bacteria can remain alive on the inside, unless the burger is fully cooked through, no matter how good quality and expensive the meat."

Despite Britain’s clear preference for undercooked burgers, the FSA is still strongly encouraging consumers to cook their meat fully and thoroughly--until steaming hot throughout, there's no pink meat in the middle and the juices run clear.

See the official research report at