Health Risks of Burgers

For anyone who seriously enjoys good food, ordering a burger is not a simple matter. Aside from issues of taste, the first question I face with a burger is whether it is likely to be safe to eat.

The more you eat out, the more you are exposed to various microorganisms from all the people who prepare your food, and all the places where food is prepared. Good hygiene standards help minimise the risk of contracting food poisoning or food-borne illnesses, however, there are some foods which still remain a higher risk.

If I have the slightest doubt about a place I would avoid ordering tuna, shellfish and other seafood. These highly perishable items contain natural toxins which can be seriously nasty if the product is stored incorrectly. While some people think it’s crazy to consume raw fish anyway, they would probably not turn their nose up at the other item I most frequently eschew; the burger.

What a Burger Contains

Invented in America during the 1890s, when German immigrants squashed meatballs between slices of bread, the name hamburger comes from the city of Hamburg.

Fried or grilled, stuffed in a bread bun with relish and served with fries,  burgers are a fast food staple sold all over the world in millions of permutations. Most commonly made from minced beef, burgers can include pork meat along with spices, bread crumbs and a little egg to bind them together. Or at least that is what they are supposed to contain.

My fear of burgers is about what you can’t see in them and what can easily be snuck in by manufacturers at the lower end of the food chain. Textured vegetable protein and ammonia treated beef trimmings are just two delights used to bulk out a burger and bulk up its profit margin.

In addition, raw minced beef may contain E-Coli, hence why burgers are usually served well done, and why home BBQs can be problematic if burgers are not thoroughly cooked.

The Luxury Burger

For many people, the burger is no longer a buy anywhere, eat any how food choice; it is something only eaten in places with a reputation for good food, that you can trust.

This is how I found myself recently booking a restaurant with the express aim of trying their burger. Run by The Atlantic Hotel’s Michelin star chef, Mark Jordan at the Beach is a seafront bistro near St Aubin’s, Jersey.

While my companions deliberated over which starters, mains and even puddings, to select, I went straight for the most expensive item on the menu, the burger.

The bistro is the only place to sell Manor Farm’s 100% Jersey beef burgers so it gets treated as reverentially as the Scottish steaks. Served in a toasted bun with a fried egg, the thick, incredibly juicy patty of meat is rendered even more luscious with a piece of pan-fried foie gras, a bit like a Tournedos Rosselini.

With a slather of creamy red cabbage slaw, a neat stack of thick, crispy chips, and a small kilner jar of ketchup, the dish was so rich that if this burger could drive, it would be going home in a Ferrari.

Thankfully, I had a few glasses of liquid polyphenols, otherwise known as red wine, to help degrease my arteries.

Future of the Burger

The Hamburger lost its ham during the First World War to make it sound less Germanic. The burger lost its beef in India, with vegetarian-only McDonald’s branches; and now it has lost its fast food status in the hands of Michelin starred chefs.

From food for the masses to a luxurious meal, one can only wonder what the next incarnation of the burger will be.