These are the reasons why some restaurants and chefs will refuse to cook meat rare for their guests upon request. The reason for this is more than just a personal choice of the chef, it is something that is actually advised against by the government. Particularly the FDA.
Even though some restaurants and chefs will still cook their meat rare for their guests, it isn’t considered to be food safe by the FDA. The temperature of rare meat just doesn’t get high enough to reach a point to where it can be ensured that all of the pathogens or bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses (food poisoning) and infection have been dealt with.
Some regions do not even allow restaurants to legally cook and serve any meat below the internal temperature specified by the government. Medium and above is usually the only type of meat that restaurants are allowed to cook and serve. Not following these regulations can lead to a restaurant getting temporarily closed or shut down.
All it takes is a visit from a health inspector, and they are done. Every health inspector for every restaurant that I have cooked for has always checked the internal temperature of the foods being served. These foods that are checked are cold foods, desserts, certain drinks, and always cold and hot meats.
Meats are checked for their internal temperature before they are cooked and also after they are cooked. Serving or storing any meat at incorrect temperatures is an automatic “it has to be thrown away”. Health inspectors take meat temperatures very seriously. They do not care if there is 30 pounds of cooked meat ready to serve. If it is undercooked (rare) it is thrown away and can’t be served to the customers at the restaraunt.
The internal temperature for meat that is cooked to rare is 125 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It is 15 to 20 degrees below the minimum safe temperature to cook meat (145 degrees Fahrenheit). If it is chicken or turkey, then the safe internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 145. Chicken and turkey cooked to rare under these terms would be 40 to 45 degrees below the required internal temperature for them to be considered safe.
Restaurants and health inspectors use thermometers to check these temperatures. The internal temperature has to reach the correct temperatures internally or pass it to be servable. Restaurants do not usually check the internal temperature of all of their cooked meats every single time they cook it. They generally will eye ball it, feel it, or break one of their cooked meats open to look at it.
Restaurants and chefs will use set times and cooking temperatures for their cooked meats that is used to ensure that the meat is always cooked all the way through. However, sometimes this failsafe does fail if the meat they are cooking weighs more than usual, or their cooking equipment stops working properly. Restaurants can lose points in a health inspection too if they don’t have a thermometer in the restaurant to check their meats.
As you can see, rare meat is well below this safe temperature. There is a higher risk of getting salmonella, E. coli, or Yersinia in rare cooked meats. Also, parasites can come from undercooked meats, which is more likely to happen from pork than the others. In order for parasites to die in meat, they have to be cooked to atleast 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
So if a chef or restaurant declines to do rare, then it is for your safety. A restaurant usually will avoid things involving stuff like this, because they don’t want to deal with legal issues of any sort that could have been avoided easily by just declining to do it. It could possibly be seen as an act of negligence on the restaurant’s part if the individual eats rare meat from their establishment and gets sick or worse.
Restaurants don’t even save meats that have been cooked at the correct temperatures, but are no longer at those temperatures internally after they are cooked. This is one of the examples of why restaurants throw away food.
It is better to live to eat another day than to gamble with the chance of bacteria, pathogens, parasites, or other foodborne infections. Some restaurants do try to push the limits sometimes with what they do serve their customers, but the FDA draws the line on how far that it can go.
Even if their customers might request to have their meat cooked some popular way (like rare or blue), and would pay a lot for it, it isn’t something a restaurant should be doing. Getting their restaurant shut down permanently for some quick profit just isn’t worth it. Most restaurants need their establishments to consistently profit daily in order to make a living.
Also, restaurants have to deal with cross contamination from cooking and serving the rare meat on the plate. When dishes are washed, they are supposed be kept separate and washed separately from other dishes that contain contamination from raw meats. Dishes that are used for raw meats are not supposed to be used for serving food to the guests, even after they have been washed in restaraunts.
Restaurants will keep these dishes separate even after washing them just to be on the safe side. The germs in raw meat aren’t guaranteed to die just because they are washed with soap. Dishes that make contact with raw meat can still spread these foodborne germs even after washing them.
Since rare meat like blue steaks isn’t cooked all the way to the internal temperature required for it to be safe for example, restaurants will refuse to cook it and serve it on their plates. The dishes that restaurants use are generally used for all of their food. So they don’t want to serve raw meat on the same dishes where other cooked meats and vegetables will eventually go.
Some sources say that certain cooked rare meats are safe to eat, because the foodborne bacteria and pathogens cannot penetrate past the surface of the meat. However, this information is not true, as there are other ways for meat to be infected internally. E. coli for example, may live in the intestines of humans and animals, but it can survive in the bloodstream as well.