At Safe Food Training, we like to visit local restaurants and observe current menu trends, and we’ve noticed that more and more establishments are serving meat alternative burgers that are crafted to have a similar taste and texture to that of real beef. Seeing these products trend on menus and in the news got us to thinking, are there any food safety concerns for the certified food protection manager serving meatless burgers?
Meatless Burgers and Certified Food Protection Managers
Vegetarian burger substitutes have existed for ages, but none have come close to simulating beef until now. Two brands in particular, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are easy to find in local restaurants and major chains. Are there any concerns from a food safety standpoint regarding these products?
Never assume that a product is safe just as it is. Even vegetarian products that are served hot must reach the proper temperature of 135 degrees. However, we’re not talking about raw fruit and vegetables that have been pulled from the produce shelf in your walk-in refrigerator, we’re talking about a mixed ingredient product not put together in your facility.
Beyond Meat recommends an internal cooking temperature of 165 degrees for their products, while Impossible Foods labels their product as “well-done” at 160 degrees. In the sales literature for their products, these manufacturers state that their product can be treated as if it were beef, so customers can choose to order their meatless burger undercooked to their liking. If you serve these products, we recommend cooking these product to well done unless a customer requests otherwise. If you choose to serve these burger alternatives at any temperature lower than 160 degrees, we suggest you include the same consumer advisory on your menu as if it were an actual beef burger.
Over time, as food innovations continue to change the landscape of menu options, training for certified food managers in Minnesota will have to be adjusted to incorporate new products. Do you know of any new and exciting food trends we should explore in upcoming articles?