Can you eat ground beef raw?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat ground beef raw?” with an in-depth analysis of beef, the risks of eating ground beef raw, and some ways to consume raw ground beef safely.

Can you eat ground beef raw? 

No, you can not eat ground beef raw. It is risky to eat raw ground beef as it can contain harmful pathogens, which can lead to severe food poisoning. 

It is recommended by the USDA to avoid consuming raw or undercooked ground beef. To be sure all pathogens are killed, cook the ground beef to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a food thermometer to maintain a safe internal temperature.

Potential risks of eating ground beef raw

Consuming raw ground beef is highly unsafe, as it can have disease-causing bacteria, which include Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia coli, all of which are otherwise killed with heat while cooking.

Ingestion of these bacteria can lead to severe symptoms of food poisoning.

Viruses, for instance, the hepatitis A virus and norovirus, as well as parasites such as beef tapeworm and giardiasis, can also be present in infected, raw ground meat.

E. coli food poisoning 

Escherichia coli has many strains, some of which normally inhabit the intestines of humans and animals, and are mostly nonpathogenic.

However, a few of the strains found in the intestines of cattle can lead to food poisoning in humans, if the meat is accidentally infected, according to CDC.

Symptoms of E. coli poisoning usually develop within 3 to 5 days after being exposed to the contaminated food. These include abdominal pain and watery diarrhoea with mild fever sometimes.

Most people improve in 7 to 10 days. However, some people develop a potentially life-threatening condition referred to as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). It occurs when bacterial toxins trigger the destruction of circulating erythrocytes and abrupt kidney failure.

Salmonellosis

Eating raw ground beef can cause salmonellosis, an infection caused by the bacterium, Salmonella. These bacteria reside in the digestive tract of cattle without causing any disease.

Fever, abdominal cramps and watery diarrhoea usually occur 12 to 72 hours after consuming food contaminated with Salmonella. Symptoms usually persist for 2 to 7 days, however, normal bowel movements may not return in a few people for some months.

In some people, the disease can progress to a potentially life-threatening condition, in which the bacteria spread from the intestines to other body parts, including the bloodstream, joints and bones. 

Campylobacteriosis 

Campylobacter bacteria commonly reside in the digestive tract of animals and can infect the meat and cause food poisoning except when properly cooked. 

Most cases of Campylobacteriosis are induced by Campylobacter jejuni.

Symptoms usually occur 2 to 4 days after ingesting the bacteria. These include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and fever. Nausea and vomiting may also occur in some cases. Most people recover within 7 to 10 days.

Campylobacteriosis can be life-threatening, if the bacteria spread to the bloodstream, particularly in people with a weakened immune system.

Listeriosis

Listeriosis is caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes which are found mostly in soil, cattle, and poultry. Eating raw ground beef is a likely source of Listeria contamination.

In healthy adults, consumption of a comparatively large amount of Listeria bacteria can result in fever, watery diarrhoea, nausea, headache and body aches after 24 hours of exposure. Symptoms usually last for a few days.

However, there are certain high-risk groups, including pregnant women, newborns, adults older than 65 years and people with a weakened immune system, in which the disease can be invasive. 

Flu-like symptoms usually occur in pregnant females with listeriosis, which can result in miscarriage, early delivery, stillbirth or infection of the baby.

Other high-risk groups who contract listeria can develop a range of symptoms, depending on the part of the body infected with the bacteria. Invasion of the bloodstream and nervous system are typically common which can be fatal.

How to consume raw ground beef safely?

For the safe consumption of ground meat, you should follow the guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • The ground meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • It should be allowed to sit for 3 minutes before consuming.
  • The populations vulnerable to foodborne diseases should completely avoid consuming raw ground beef. These include pregnant women, children, older people, and people with suppressed immune systems.
  • After purchasing the raw meat, be sure to put it right in the freezer or fridge if you are not going to eat it immediately. 
  • Store the meat covered, away from other foods and make sure nothing drips on it. 
  • Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40℉ or below to keep it safe and cold.

Conclusion 

In this short article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat ground beef raw?” with an in-depth analysis of beef, the risks of eating ground beef raw, and some ways to consume raw ground beef safely.

References 

https://www.livestrong.com/article/477906-can-eating-raw-beef-make-you-sick/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-eat-raw-beef

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.