WESTMINSTER, UK – The Westminster City Council has denied press reports that the council is banning rare and medium-rare hamburgers on food safety concerns.

Local news reports claimed that the council banned rare and medium-rare burgers for food safety reasons, with restaurants being asked at their next inspection how burgers are offered. The reports surfaced after Davy’s, a wine bar and restaurant, appealed a food improvement notice which the council says it issues “only to restaurants that are not treating meat properly before it is minced”. Davy’s appealed the notice.

“This is not about banning undercooked burgers. This is about making sure customers are eating meat that is not a threat to their health,” said James Armitage, Westminster City Council’s food health and safety manager. “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.”

However, foodservice providers in the area voiced their fears that such a move would lead to questions about the safety of other menu items such as rare steak or steak tartare. The London Evening Standard reported that several celebrity chefs could be affected, including Gordon Ramsay the star of Hell’s Kitchen. He owns Maze Grill restaurant which offers a burger for £12 ($19.33). Westminster is in central London near Parliament and Westminster Abbey.