The connoisseurs will tell you that the best way to enjoy your steak is rare. The reasoning is the more you cook a piece of meat the more you reduce the juices, and therefore the more you reduce the flavour. But is a rare steak a food safety risk? The answer for all those carnivores out there is decidedly NO! A rare steak does not carry greater food safety risk than a steak that has been cremated.
The reason is that any potentially hazardous bacteria would be present on the surface of the steak and not in the meat. The chef/griller/braai master cooks the surface of the meat at a high temperature and this ensures all bacteria that may be present on the meat are destroyed. Should the chef/griller/braai master be using dirty equipment then both the rare steak and well done steak carry the same risk.
Unfortunately when it comes to rare burgers (patties) the same does not hold true. When meat is minced, the bacteria on the surface of the meat are mixed in with the rest of the meat. The bacteria are now present throughout the burger patty. By not cooking the patty thoroughly results in the centre of the patty not reaching sufficiently high enough temperatures.
So, if the centre of the patty is still raw or red it means it has not been cooked right through and bacteria may still be present. Therefore we recommend that food establishments stop offering rare burgers and rather cook the patty thoroughly to reduce the risk of making their patrons sick.
Remember you cannot see bacteria and as such you can never be 100% sure that those little blighters are not present. If you have confidence that the meat is very fresh and that no contamination has taken place, i.e. that no bad bacteria has got onto the meat, then by all means enjoy your rare burger. Just remember rare burgers and steak tartare will always pose a higher risk of potential food poisoning.