Can you eat cured bacon raw?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat cured bacon raw?”, and how to cook bacon safely?

This article briefs how the consumption of raw meat including raw bacon is dangerous for your health.

Can you eat cured bacon raw?

Cured bacon is preserved through salt and it is cured similarly to the pre-cooked deli ham. When it comes to the safety of eating raw cured bacon, let’s just start by saying it is very unreliable.

Cured or not, raw bacon is uncooked and the consumption of uncooked or raw meat increases the risk of food-borne illnesses. Depending upon the type of microbe and the severity of the illness, it can even result in the death of the infected person. 

Potential dangers 

Cured bacon is treated by adding salt that impedes the growth of bacteria and nitrites that prevent botulism. Eating raw bacon increases your chances of developing the following illnesses.

Toxoplasmosis: It is caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii and it infests immunocompromised individuals including children, pregnant women, the elderly, or those suffering from immune crushing diseases like AIDS or HIV.

Trichinosis: The cause of this illness is a group of parasitic roundworms that lead to diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and eye swelling in their host.

Tapeworms: These parasites reside in the intestine for nourishment and cause abdominal pain, weight loss, and intestinal blockages in their host.

Other health concerns 

Bacon is heavily processed and the consumption of such foods as a regular part of your diet ends in unpleasant circumstances. The consumption of such unhealthy foods has been linked to an increased risk of colon and rectum cancer.

Like bacon, other heavily processed meats include ham, pastrami, salami, sausages, and hot dogs. These meat products go through rigorous processing that involves smoking, curing, salting, or adding preservatives.

The nitrates and nitrites that are added to processed meat to preserve their color and flavor, transform into nitrosamines when in your body. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic in nature.

The key to avoiding such extreme consequences is to limit the intake of processed meat like bacon and eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and exercise regularly to maintain weight.

How to cook bacon safely?

According to the USDA, following safety guidelines for cooking or handling bacon can reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses stemming from handling or eating the raw or undercooked meat.

First of all, you must keep the food contact and non-food contact counters clean. Then you must wash your hands before and after handling raw bacon. 

Raw bacon or any other raw meat should be stored away from other food products in your fridge. The bacon must be cooked until crispy or until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C).

Bacon can be safely cooked in an oven, skillet, pan, or even in the microwave. microwaving produces less carcinogenic nitrosamines than frying. 

A study has shown that the nitrosamine content of the burnt or over-cooked bacon is higher than well-done bacon. 

Is smoked bacon fully cooked?

Smoking does involve a heating process but the heat is not high enough and the exposure duration to heat is not sufficient to safely eat smoked bacon without cooking.

You may be eating raw bacon all the time and not falling ill but this does not make the raw bacon safe to eat raw. Raw bacon must be cooked to ensure its safety. However, if the package of the smoked bacon allows you to eat it raw, then go ahead with it.

Can you eat raw smoked bacon?

No, you cannot eat raw smoked bacon unless the packaging says otherwise. As discussed above, eating raw bacon, smoked or not, can lead to toxoplasmosis. 

Eating raw smoked bacon also increases your risk of getting attacked by tapeworms and roundworms. Follow the cooking instructions on the package of the smoked bacon to safely cook it and store it for later if you want.

Which type of bacon can you safely eat without cooking?

No type of bacon should be consumed without cooking. Because curing, smoking, or salting is not enough to eliminate the raw bacon of all its food-borne illnesses.

If you want to skip cooking the bacon, your best bet is to buy the fully-cooked bacon. However, the flavor of the pre-cooked bacon is not as fresh as the bacon that you cook yourself at home. 

But pre-cooked bacon is very convenient. You simply need to microwave it for 15 seconds, if you like your bacon soft, and 1 minute if you like it crispy.

Other FAQs about Bacon that you may be interested in.

How to cook bacon in an instant pot?

Can you eat bacon raw?

Do you have to use bacon within 7 days of opening?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat cured bacon raw?”, and how to cook bacon safely?