It makes sense that eating meat would transport you back to the time of human evolution, but did you know that, from Europe to Asia, eating raw or partially cooked meat and fish is not as uncommon as it might seem and may be the cause of the majority of your illnesses? Raw meat consumption is widespread in many international cuisines. Even though this method is common, you should be aware of several safety issues.
Yes, raw meat contains germs and other organisms that were once inside the animal. These can cause a variety of illnesses, including food poisoning and other foodborne diseases like typhoid and jaundice, to mention a few. Sadly, the meat of dead animals contains the same bacteria and pathogens that the animal had; anyone consuming that meat in the raw form is at significant risk of developing many health conditions. It would save so much time if everyone had raw meat or fish. In truth, investigations have shown that raw meat is frequently contaminated and contains a variety of germs, viruses, parasites, or poisons.
Any uncooked muscle tissue from an animal utilized for sustenance is often referred to as raw meat. In the meat-producing sector, the terms “meat” and “seafood” are used to distinguish between the tissue of birds and aquatic animals, respectively. In contrast, the term “meat” particularly refers to mammalian flesh.
Many classic meals, including crudos, steak tartare,
Meat can be improperly or insufficiently cooked, allowing microorganisms that cause disease to be consumed. Mett, kibbeh niyyah, sushi/sashimi, raw oysters, and other delicacies may call for uncooked meat even though most are prepared before consumption. Even though cooked and raw meat can be infected, the risk of illness from consuming bacteria in raw meat is substantially higher.
Additionally, meat contamination can occur at any point during the production process, from the cutting of prepared meats to the cross-infection of food in a refrigerator—a higher risk of disease results from each of these circumstances.
Is Eating Raw Meat Healthy?
There isn’t much data to support the assertion that raw meat has more nutritional and health benefits than cooked meat.
- According to several anthropologists, heating food—especially meat—has facilitated human evolution because it breaks down proteins and makes food simpler to chew and digest.
- According to some research, heating meat may cause it to contain less salt, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.
- However, these studies also point out that other minerals, including copper, zinc, and iron, rise after cooking.
- In contrast, one study discovered that cooking reduced the amount of iron in several types of meat. In the end, additional research is required to comprehend how cooking changes the nutritional content of beef.
- The increased risk of developing a foodborne illness likely outweighs any potential benefits of consuming raw meat. Further information is required to determine precise nutritional variations between raw and cooked beef.
What are the Risks of Eating Raw Meat?
Here are the health risks of eating raw meat:
You are home to a microscopic ecosystem of bacteria, fungus, and viruses, as are all other living things. Meat that has been cooked kills the majority of these germs. However, within hours after being killed, uncooked meat becomes a breeding ground for these and other microorganisms.
Although it’s frequently referred to as “spoilage,” decomposition has already started before spoilage. When humans eat meat still alive and contaminated with germs, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens, they develop foodborne sickness, often known as food poisoning. Food poisoning is fairly frequent, but it also has a high mortality rate—it claims the lives of about 500,000 people worldwide.
Roundworms, namely Trichinella spiralis, are contagious parasites that may survive in most warm-blooded animals, including pigs, boars, bears, horses, and dogs. Roundworm larvae can live in raw or undercooked meat from an infected animal and hook onto the small intestine lining.
Roundworms produce new larvae as they reach adulthood, which invades cells and tissues, including muscle, which is essentially raw flesh. Trichinosis causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, muscle soreness, fever, headaches, and swelling of the eyelids and face as the parasites colonize the newly discovered human host.
Like animals, humans and other healthy animals have Escherichia coli (E. coli) in their intestines. While most E. coli strains are not harmful, others, like E. coli O157:H7, are frequently found in cattle and can be quite dangerous. These dangerous bacteria enter produce from feces that wash off into water sources and manure used as fertilizer. Meat can become contaminated with germs during the killing and processing of cattle just by coming into contact with the intestines of the animals. E. coli O157:H7 in humans produces vomiting, nausea, and bloody diarrhea.
By not thoroughly washing their hands after using the restroom, infected people increase the spread of the bacteria. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a dangerous and occasionally fatal condition affecting the blood and kidneys, can be brought on by an E. coli diarrheal infection.
Mad Cow Disease
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called “mad cow disease,” is a lethal brain condition affecting people who consume this livestock and feed other cattle. Even while the mad cow epidemic may be considered a thing of the past, the first significant outbreak most likely isn’t over. The incubation time for BSE is extremely long, and it can take decades, possibly 50 years or more, for humans to show symptoms. Studies in the U.S. and Japan suggest that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which may be transmitted to people through BSE-contaminated meat, is rising.
Raw Meat Dishes
Here are some common raw meat dishes:
- Steak tartare: minced raw beef steak mixed with egg yolk, onions, and spices
- Tuna tartare: chopped uncooked tuna mixed with herbs and spices
- Carpaccio: a dish from Italy made of thinly sliced raw beef or fish
- Pittsburgh rare steak: steak that has been seared on the outside and left raw on the inside, also known as “black and blue steak.”
- Mett: a German dish of uncooked minced pork that’s flavored with salt, pepper, and garlic or caraway
- Some types of sushi: a Japanese dish consisting of rolls that contain cooked rice and often raw fish
- Ceviche: minced raw fish cured with citrus juice and seasonings
- Torisashi: a Japanese dish of thin chicken strips briefly cooked on the outside and raw on the inside
Even though these foods are common on restaurant menus, they are not necessarily secure. A brief warning, “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may raise your risk of foodborne illness,” is frequently present on dishes containing raw meat. This informs customers that eating raw meat may not be safe and carries certain dangers.
Additionally, recipes using raw meat can be made at home, but it’s crucial to source the meat appropriately. For instance, purchase fresh fish from a nearby merchant who follows safe food handling procedures or purchase a premium cut of beef from your butcher and have them grind it, especially for you. Contamination and foodborne illness can be avoided with the use of these procedures.
How to Lower your Risk?
There are a few strategies to lower your chance of getting sick, even if eating raw meat is not always safe.
- When indulging in raw meat, it could be best to go for a whole piece of meat rather than prepackaged minced meat, such as steak or meat that’s been ground in-house.
- This is because pre-minced beef may contain meat from numerous cows, significantly raising your chance of contracting a foodborne illness. A steak, on the other hand, originates from a single cow. Additionally, there is substantially less surface area for contamination.
- Other varieties of meat, such as fish, chicken, and hog, all follow the same principle. In the end, eating raw ground meat poses a greater risk than consuming a raw steak or full animal.
- Another approach to lower your risk is to choose raw seafood. Because it is frequently frozen soon after being caught, which kills several hazardous bacteria, raw fish is typically safer than other types of raw meat.
- However, eating raw chicken poses a greater risk. Chicken typically has higher levels of dangerous bacteria like Salmonella than other meats. Additionally, it has a more porous structure, which enables infections to enter the meat deeply. Therefore, it appears that not all germs are eliminated even after searing the exterior of raw chicken.
- Finally, cooking meats to minimum internal temperatures of 145°F (63°C) for pork, cattle, and fish, 160°F (71°C) for ground meats, and at least 165°F (74°C) for poultry will eliminate the danger of contracting a foodborne disease.
Have People Ever Eaten Raw Meat?
According to a dental plaque study, Homo antecessor, which some scholars believe to be the final common ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern humans, consumed raw meat. Additionally, forensic evidence demonstrates that this early progenitor was a cannibal who preyed on toddlers and newborns. Humans have greatly evolved since then, which was 1.2 million years ago.
Humans are the only species that has ever cooked food, having learned how to handle fire once our predecessors did. With the advent of cooking, our ancestors altered their meals to include much more nutrient-dense roots, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. More starch consumption changed the types of bacteria that existed in our ancestors’ mouths. Additionally, consuming more carbs, notably glucose, stimulated brain development and facilitated the development of modern humans.
A very simple technique to avoid food poisoning, intestinal parasites, and deadly microorganisms is to avoid eating raw meat. However, why end there? Complete meat abstinence may also lower your chances of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. According to recent research, eating only plants can add ten years or more to our lives.
Maybe we should all give up our meat-heavy diets that raise our risk of disease and start eating as we believe in science, given the advantages to our own and the general public’s health, the health of the environment, and the lives of animals. Dishes with raw meat are frequently offered on restaurant menus worldwide, but this does not imply that they are safe. There are techniques to lessen this risk when consuming raw meat, but it’s crucial to cook meats to the correct internal temperature to eliminate the risk.