Westminster City Council has denied that it has effectively banned rare and medium rare burgers.
The statement came after a High Court case involving wine bar Davy's, which has appealed against an improvement notice it was served by the council for the way in which it served its burgers at one of its restaurants, was adjourned until next year.
Press reports claimed that the council had decided to ban rare and medium rare burgers amid food safety concerns, with every restaurant being faced with the prospect of being asked how they offer their burgers at their next inspection.
But the council acknowledged that "plenty of restaurants in Westminster serve rare meat safely".
James Armitage, Westminster City Council’s food health and safety manager, said: “This is not about banning undercooked burgers. 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 necessary for this.
“We have enlisted the UK’s top expert on E. Coli, Professor Hugh Pennington, to get this matter resolved and he has already outlined that rare minced meat which is not correctly cooked and prepared can kill – we have to take that seriously and we believe the restaurant involved falls well below the standards required.”
David Kidman, of Berrymans Lace Mawer, solicitor for Davy's said: "Davy's wishes to stress that its paramount concern is the safety of its customers. 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 to customers who request them.
"It has appealed a notice served by Westminster City Council on one of its restaurants, on this basis. Davy's is not aware of any complaints from the public about its rare or medium-rare burgers. In filing the appeal, it was not Davy's intention to set any general legal precedent on the point. It cannot comment on rare or medium-rare burgers served by other food businesses."
The case will resume in early May 2013 at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The serving of rare burgers has proven a controversial point in recent years, with burger chain Byron announcing last year that it would stop serving them at all of its restaurants following the intervention of one unnamed local authority.
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs
Blogs on Catererandhotelkeeper.com
Catch up with more news and gossip on all Caterer's blogs
For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our E-newsletters