FINLAND – In a recent control operation conducted by the environmental department of the Oulu region in Finland, concerning revelations have emerged regarding the risk management of medium-cooked ground beef steaks served in restaurants.

The study uncovered potential dangers associated with insufficient risk communication and the presence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in certain samples.

Customers, while informed about the doneness level of their steak, were left in the dark about the E. coli risk linked to medium-cooked ground beef. This information gap raises concerns about public awareness and safety.

While the microbiological quality of raw meat was generally satisfactory, the study identified STEC in two out of 12 samples. Both positive samples were traced back to a single restaurant, raising questions about the sourcing and preparation of ground beef steaks in that establishment.

The Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto) is urging all restaurants to serve ground meat products fully cooked to eliminate the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Additionally, a critical aspect highlighted is the need for written risk management plans in self-monitoring documents.

Only a single site among the inspected restaurants had documented such measures as part of their self-monitoring process.

Restaurants typically rely on customer preferences to determine the cooking level of ground beef steaks, commonly offering them medium unless otherwise specified.

However, the study noted a lack of written information provided to customers about the E. coli risk associated with medium-cooked ground steaks.

Most restaurants source industrially produced ground meat for preparing medium-cooked beef products, with one relying on the manufacturer’s guarantee regarding the medium-cooking suitability.

In a parallel project focusing on potato products, rice, and pasta, environmental health monitoring units in different regions carried out a campaign highlighting deficiencies in self-monitoring plans, temperature control, and result documentation.

Some samples demonstrated poor microbiological quality, with concerns raised about storage temperatures, reheating practices, and equipment hygiene in certain establishments, reports Food Safety News.

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