Dangerous food trend: watch out for raw meat

Updated on 04/04/2022 21:36

  • Some diets include raw meat.
  • However, not all types of meat are suitable for this.
  • There is also a risk of catching an infection from eating it.

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Opinions differ when it comes to raw meat: while some people get a stomach ache just thinking about it, others swear by it, including American reality TV star Heidi Montag.

It is said that she likes to eat raw meat to increase her fertility. “I’ve been trying to have a child for over a year and a half,” Montag told People magazine recently. Meat is a “great source of nutrients” and she feels “much more energy, clarity, increased libido and overall improvement in my chronic pain” from this diet. However, there is no scientific evidence for this effect.

Is eating raw meat a healthy pleasure or is it better to abstain? What should be paid attention to? And who should completely give up raw meat? We answer the most important questions.

Which diet includes raw meat?

Some diets are generally quite high in meat – for example the Paleo diet, which is based on a diet attributed to the Stone Age. A ketogenic diet, meaning a diet high in fat and protein, often includes a relatively large amount of meat. Eating raw meat is usually an aggravation of these forms of nutrition: Paleo diets include, for example, Raw Paleo with raw meat.

Although the consumption of raw meat may seem unusual at first glance: “Beef and other dark red meats such as venison are known as tartare or carpaccio in gourmet cuisine”, explains Daniela Krehl, specialist adviser at the department Bavarian Institute Food and Nutrition. Consumer Advice Center in conversation with our editors. Because the meat is thinly sliced ​​and heavily seasoned, it can also be enjoyed raw. However, hygiene is extremely important with raw meat.

Can the body use raw meat?

When preparing meat, it is usually heated to a high temperature. “It’s possible that some vitamins are destroyed by the frying or cooking process,” Krehl says. However, raw meat in one piece is not particularly digestible – and it is also tough. “This is because the proteins have not been denatured by heat”, explains the expert. “As a result, meat proteins are also less digestible.” Whole cuts of meat also lack roasted aromas. They are formed during frying by the so-called Maillard reaction.

What’s wrong with raw meat?

Raw meat can make you sick and cause serious infections. When eaten, bacteria, viruses and parasites can be transmitted.

Is there no germless meat?

It is indeed impossible to obtain meat without germs: the first germs infest the meat during slaughter. Surfaces are often heavily soiled with particles containing faeces. This is why it is above all the intestinal bacteria that first colonize fresh meat.

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, even under perfect hygienic conditions after slaughter, there are around 1,000 germs per square centimeter on the surface of beef and around 10,000 on the surface of pork. It’s true that not all of them are dangerous and make you sick – but it’s enough to catch a few of the rare pathogenic germs by eating them.

Do you notice that the meat is contaminated with germs?

You can often recognize spoiled meat by its smell and appearance. But: Pathogenic bacteria can also multiply on the meat without being visible from the outside. Salmonella, for example, cannot be identified, and EHEC or Clostridia pathogens cannot be identified by smell, taste or color of meat.

What should you pay attention to if you want to eat raw meat?

To absolute hygiene and good cooling. It is therefore better to use insulated bags or rechargeable batteries for transport and to consume the meat as quickly as possible. If you need to keep it for a short time, it’s best to put it on the glass shelf above the crisper drawer in the fridge, because that’s where it’s coolest.

However, there are always bacteria on refrigerated meat. So you can never be absolutely sure of staying healthy after eating raw meat. Ground meat, such as minced meat or goulash, spoils particularly quickly.

What meat should you never eat raw?

Under no circumstances should pork or poultry be eaten raw. “The risk of infection is too great here,” says Daniela Krehl. Poultry, for example, is often contaminated with salmonella. Yersinia, for example, which can cause gastrointestinal diseases, multiplies on pigs. In addition, pork and poultry are often colonized by the Campylobacter germ, which also causes intestinal infections.

Listeria, which can also be transmitted via raw meat and raw milk, is also considered particularly dangerous. In the worst case, listeriosis can be fatal if the bacteria infects the brain and organs.

Who better to give up completely?

“Pregnant women should generally avoid raw meat,” says Krehl. If they contract listeriosis, it can lead to miscarriage or cause brain damage to the unborn child. But people with weakened immune systems and children should also avoid touching raw meat.

About the Expert:

Daniela Krehl studied ecotrophology and works at the Bavarian Consumer Advice Center as a consultant in the food and nutrition department. As a contact person for the press, she answers questions about nutritional policy and consumption.

Sources used:

  • Conversation with Daniela Krehl, Specialist Advisor in the Food and Nutrition Department of the Bavarian Center for Consumer Advice
  • Federal Institute for Risk Assessment: Questions and answers on spoiled meat
  • Robert Koch Institute: Listeriosis
  • Consumer Advice Center North Rhine-Westphalia: Preparing Meat Safely

Fresh fruits and vegetables are important for a healthy diet. But beware: some types of vegetables should never be eaten raw, or even chopped up in a smoothie. (Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ALEAIMAGE)


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