Can you eat steak raw?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat steak raw?” and discuss the risks of eating steak raw. Raw steak is appreciated in Japanese and in Korean cuisine.

Can you eat steak raw?

Yes, you can eat steak raw. Koreans as well as Japanese frequently consume raw or undercooked meat (1). However, it is not safe to eat raw or undercooked meat and you should not eat raw steak, as many pathogenic microorganisms may develop in meat. 

It is not safe to eat uncooked meat. Raw meat may carry pathogenic bacteria, viral pathogens (viruses and prions) and parasites (2). 

What are the risks of eating raw steak?

The risks of eating raw steak are of having an infection due to the ingestion of contaminated meat. Meat and meat products may carry many microorganisms, including pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

Enterobacteriaceae spp., , Staphylococcus spp., Clostridium spp., Bacillus sppColiforms, yeasts and molds are some pathogens that may be ingested when you ingest raw or undercooked meat, leading to foodborne illnesses. The majority of illness originates from raw meat rather than processed meat products (2).

Raw and undercooked meat should be avoided especially by vulnerable individuals, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised persons, and elderly, who are more susceptible to suffering a foodborne illness (3). 

In addition, it has been reported that some heat resistant viruses that are present in raw or undercooked meat may act synergistically with carcinogenic compounds in the colon, increasing the risks of developing colorectal cancer (1).

What are the benefits of eating raw steak?

The benefits of eating raw steak are related to the nutrients present in raw beef, which are preserved when no heat treatment is applied to the food.

Cooking meat may result in the reduction of the moisture content as well as of its nutritional value. Heat causes oxidation of the lipids in meat, leading to the loss of essential fatty acids, including polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and conjugated linolenic acids (CLA) (6).

According to several studies, CLA have potential health benefits on cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and the immune system. It is also generally recognized by physicians that a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids is positive to health. These fats are lost during cooking, especially when high temperatures are used.

In addition, cooking also reduces the vitamin B content of meat. According to a study, Niacin, Riboflavin and Thiamin were significantly reduced after cooking beef, when compared to raw beef (7).  

How to Safely Consume Beef?

To safely consume meat, meat must be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F or above and let to rest for three minutes thereafter, according to the USDA (4). In addition, safe handling and safe storage recommendations must be followed before and after cooking meat, in order to avoid further contaminations.

Meat contamination occurs during the practices in the meat slaughter and processing, storage, handling and serving (5). The more the food is handled, higher are the risks. Good hygiene practices must be carried out throughout the entire process from farm to table.

Studies show that undercooked meat is related to microbial contaminations in a high incidence, despite the knowledge and application of good practices of food handling. By examining the products in the Australian market, Campylobacter was found in undercooked comminuted meat, Salmonella and E. coli were found in undercooked hamburgers, Toxoplasma gondii in undercooked lamb meat, C. botulinum, L. monocytogenes in undercooked primal and others (5).

What is the best way to cook meat to preserve its nutrients?

The best way to cook meat and preserve the nutrients of meat, mild temperatures should be used. As mentioned earlier in the article, cooking meat may affect its nutritional profile and result in the destruction of nutrients and vitamins. 

At the same time, it is required that a minimum temperature of 145°F is reached followed by a rest time of 3 minutes, in order to ensure the destruction of pathogenic microorganisms (4).

Studies showed that the nutrients of raw meat are affected differently, depending on the cooking method applied. In general, cooking losses increased directly with the increased cooking time and increased internal temperature reached by meat. 

When microwaving, boiling and grilling were compared, there were higher losses of fatty acids when microwave was used, followed by boiling and then by grilling.

High temperatures of cooking and long cooking times can also lead to the formation of heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic compounds. Heterocyclic amines are formed by the pyrolysis of creatinine and amino acids in the meat juices during high-temperature cooking and increase with increasing duration of cooking. Oral administration of these compounds are related to increased levels of gastro-intestinal tract tumors (8).

How to know if meat has gone bad?

To know that meat has gone bad, it is necessary to identify possible signs of meat spoilage. The spoilage of meat is detectable through changes of its appearance, texture, smell and flavor.

The development of off-odors, off-flavor, change of color, slim formation, gas production (bloating of the packaging), and acid production are clear signs of meat deterioration.

How to store raw meat?

Uncooked meat should be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for a maximum period of 12 months (4).

Avoid temperature fluctuations during storage and make sure the temperature of the refrigerator is kept at 4°C (40°F) and of the freezer is kept at -18°C (0°F).

Other FAQs about Steak that you may be interested in.

How to cook a juicy well-done steak?

Can you eat medium steak when pregnant?

Can you eat steak every day?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat steak raw?” and we discussed the risks of eating steak raw. In addition, we provided tips on how to store raw meat. 


  1. zur Hausen, Harald. Red meat consumption and cancer: reasons to suspect involvement of bovine infectious factors in colorectal cancer. Int j cancer, 2012, 130, 2475-2483..
  2. Stoica, Maricica, Silvia Stoean, and Petru Alexe. Overview of biological hazards associated with the consumption of the meat products. J. Agroaliment. Process. Technol, 2014, 20, 192-197.
  3. Ross, Danielle S., Jeffery L. Jones, and Michael F. Lynch. Toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, listeriosis, and preconception care. Matern child health j, 2006, 10, 189-193.
  4. Beef from farm to table. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  5. Hernandez-Jover, Marta, et al. Semi-quantitative food safety risk profile of the Australian red meat industry. Int J Food Microbiol, 2021, 353, 109294.
  6. Alfaia, Cristina MM, et al. Effect of cooking methods on fatty acids, conjugated isomers of linoleic acid and nutritional quality of beef intramuscular fat. Meat Sci, 2010, 84, 769-777.
  7. Lombardi-Boccia, Ginevra, Sabina Lanzi, and Altero Aguzzi. Aspects of meat quality: trace elements and B vitamins in raw and cooked meats. J food Compos Anal, 2005, 18, 39-46.
  8. Ward, Mary H., et al. Risk of adenocarcinoma of the stomach and esophagus with meat cooking method and doneness preference. Int j cancer, 1997, 71, 14-19.

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