“Millions of bacteria such as salmonella and e.coli, excessive fat and illegal preservatives” are among ‘ingredients’ found in pre-made burgers at butcher shops, a study by consumer watchdog DECO has revealed.
“We strongly advise against the purchase of pre-made burgers and minced meat,” DECO’s food expert Nuno Lima Dias told Lusa news agency.
The study saw DECO visiting 25 butchers in Lisbon and Porto, where they requested pre-made burgers without any grain or vegetable so that they would not contain sulphite (a commonly used preservative).
Nonetheless 80% of burgers contained “illegal levels” of the preservative, often in “huge amounts”.
As DECO explains, people who are allergic to sulphite can suffer from nausea, headaches, digestive, respiratory and skin-related problems. In “very rare cases” consumption can be fatal.
Another problem identified was that meat is stored “at much higher temperatures” – an average of 8ºC – than permitted by law (2ºC).
The problem, Nuno Lima Dias says, is that there is no way for consumers to evaluate meat quality as preservatives keep it from darkening.
Thus DECO advises people to select a meat at the butchers, and ask for it to be minced there and then. Alternatively, they could mince it at home before cooking it ‘well’.