Over a year after local health units in Ontario cracked down on serving raw ground meat under a fog of mixed policy statements from provincial wonks, Ottawa Public Health is asking all restaurants within the city to immediately stop serving beef tartare after receiving a complaint from someone who got sick after eating the raw French cuisine at a local restaurant.
According to public health officials, the fancy dish, which is made of raw shredded beef before being seasoned and topped with a raw egg, should never have been served in the first place as it is against food safety regulations and could contain bacteria and parasites that may make people sick.
“Under the regulations, raw meat products cannot be served to the public,” said Eric Leclair, a spokesman for Ottawa Public Health. “We have asked that the product not be served as it does not meet the regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. At this time, the restaurateur is co-operating and has voluntarily stopped serving the product.”
While Ottawa Public Health is only investigating one area restaurant — it wouldn’t say which one received the complaint — it’s asking all area restaurants to immediately remove the dish from their menus, should they be offering it.
“I’m sure that this dish is popular in areas of Europe, but it doesn’t meet the food safety regulations we have in place in Ontario,” said Sherry Beadle, a manager of Public Health Inspection at the city.
Dozens of restaurants in Ottawa serve some variation of tartare.
The Wellington Street Gastropub, which offers a well-reviewed beef tartare on its menu, had not heard any objections from Ottawa Public Health about its offering. Nor had Michael Blackie, owner of NeXT in Stittsville, who said the dish was one of his restaurant’s most popular offerings.
“Just because one chef doesn’t know how to cook doesn’t mean we all don’t,” he said, responding to public health’s request that the dish be removed from restaurant menus. “It’s goofy. They are always jumping to extremes.”
It’s not cooked.