Eating raw meat, how harmful can it be?

In a recent MUNCHIES article, a trolling Facebook user posted a picture of her medium rare chicken strips to represent her New Year’s resolution of clean eating. Naturally, the comments for the photo were littered with reactions like, “I hope you didn’t eat that,” and “Does the term salmonella ring a bell?!?! Wtf!”

All trolling aside, this attention seeking stunt did spark discussion about whether eating raw meat can be harmful.

Eating any kind of raw meat is not only disgusting but a serious health hazard.

Ingesting any type of raw beef, pork, or chicken may put you at risk for foodborne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella poisoning, which will lead to extreme illness and could potentially be fatal.

According to Public Health Canada, the consumption of raw and undercooked red meat like beef and other game contain bacteria, called Escherichia coli, commonly found in intestines in humans and animals.

A large number of E. coli strains are harmless, although some strains like E. coli 0157:H7 have a tendency to make humans violently ill. Carnivores might argue their beloved crudo, tartar and carpaccio plates stand the test against undercooked naysayers because of non-heat acidic cooking methods, but the truth is heatless cooking still puts you at risk for life-halting food poisoning.

For many meat lovers, pork is a heavenly bacon pleasure. But if not thoroughly cooked, the results from eating that tasty piggy can take a turn for the worst. Eating undercooked pork comes with the risk of obtaining a worm parasite called trichinella spiralis. When eaten, this worm can cause trichinosis, which can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, intense muscle pain and kidney failure.

So eating raw bacon is a risk you can take if you think it’s worth it.

Many people think a Japanese dish called sashimi is worth it. In Japanese, sashimi breaks into two words – ‘sashi’ meaning pierce and ‘mi’ meaning meat. In other words, sashimi is the practice of preparing and eating fresh raw fish or meat. This includes pork, horse, deer, and chicken. Yes, chicken.

Commonly found in raw or undercooked poultry, food contaminated with salmonella smells, looks and tastes completely normal. There are more than 2,600 species of salmonella. Last year, Ontario had 63 reported cases of salmonella foodborne illnesses. Some symptoms include abdominal cramps, headaches, chills and vomiting. Salmonella poisoning is usually found in even partially cooked chicken. Chickens are often covered in grim diseases such as campylobacter and E. coli. They just happen to taste good.

The idea of medium rare chicken strips in the name of ‘clean eating’ is idiotic and stomach turning.

To eat or not to eat raw meat – if that is the question, the answer is no. If you’re looking for a faster trip to the toilet or worse, the hospital, feast away. So the next time you want to order that steak blue rare, or cut into a pink pork chop, you may want to consider whether the risk outweighs the bloody benefits.

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Jared Williams is a second year journalism student at Durham College. He is a strong writer and photographer for the Chronicle.

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