What are the health risks of Eating Raw Meat? Part One

Often we cringe at the idea of eating meat that isn’t cooked. We worry about the health risks and potential for getting sick. But it could be surprising how much raw meat is actually consumed. The United States is the country where the largest amount of meat is eaten, this refers to cooked and raw meats.

This is part I of two parts that will look at raw meats. In the first part, we will look at what risk infections can be seen in many of the meats. In the second part, we will look at preventing food illness, diets that include raw meats and more.

We’ve always been told to cook your meat completely. This is for fear of getting sick. Some new diets are actually calling for undercooked or uncooked meat. But, you must ask yourself, is the risk worth it?

When we talk about raw meat we are talking about the following:

1.)    Beef
2.)    Chicken
3.)    Pork
4.)    Fish
5.)    Seafood

Diseases of Raw Meat

The large risk of raw meat is in the pathogens that are digested. Cooking food kills the pathogens and the risks greatly diminish.  There are about 15 million illnesses that occur each year due pathogens and about 9,000 deaths.

But, eating raw meats aren’t the only cause of these deaths. Pathogens can be found on raw vegetables, in poorly prepared fruit juices, raw eggs, and even from raw milk or below quality or contaminated water.  Though, meat is the main source of these bacteria, it isn’t the only source.

In beef – Escherichia coli is the bacteria that is most commonly found.  This bacterium is often typically found in the intestines of mammals. Most types aren’t harmful to their hosts. But when the bacterium goes from the intestines to something that is eaten, this is where the large problems occur.

In Beef, this occurs usually in the slaughter house, where the intestine could accidentally be cut and spill onto the meat.

Other bacteria could be Shigella, Staphyylococcus, Listeria and more.

In chicken and poultry the most common bacteria is Salmonella.  This type of bacteria is slightly different than E. coli and is found in different places. This bacterium can cause severe foodborne illness. But it can also cause typhoid fever and parathyphoid fever.  Typhoid fever happens when water is contaminated by these bacteria. It can be very deadly after natural disasters and such.

Salmonella can also be found in beef, but much less likely than E. coli. Salmonella can also be found in diary, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

In Pork and even Beef, a large concern is Trichinosis. This is a parasite disease that is especially seen in pork. It can also be seen in wild game. Trichinella is a parasite or worm that thrives in these types of animals.

In Thailand there are hundreds of cases each ear. This happens especially around the Thai New Year where a larger portion of the food is raw or undercooked.

Check in later for the second part of health risks for raw foods.

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