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Many of us are aware of the risk of food poisoning when eating raw or undercooked meats, but what about eating bacon raw? Some meats like fish and certain cuts of beef are relatively safe to eat raw, but if you’re wondering whether raw bacon falls into this category, then the short answer is no. Here are some reasons not to eat raw bacon.

Is it Safe to Eat Raw Bacon?

Eating any type of raw meat, whether it’s raw chicken, raw sausages, or any kind of processed meat, will increase your risk of foodborne illnesses, more commonly referred to as food poisoning. Plain raw bacon (much like other meats) carries harmful bacteria that are often destroyed when exposed to high temperatures i.e. to fully cook them. The centers for disease control estimated that 48 million people in the United States get food poisoning per year.

Can you eat raw bacon: reasons not to!

Can You Eat Raw Bacon?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the main causes of food poisoning is the consumption of raw or undercooked meat. Meat that hasn’t been cooked properly is most likely crawling with harmful bacteria. These bacteria could have made their appearance on the raw meat immediately after the animal was slaughtered! Here are some of the potential health risks you can obtain from consuming uncooked bacon.

  • Trichinosis
  • Food Poisoning
  • Fever
  • Thirst
  • Muscle Soreness and Other Infections

Trichinosis

The most notorious illness is trichinosis which is a parasitic infection that is obtained from improper eating habits, i.e. consuming raw meats. Raw, undercooked, and processed meats are thriving with many varieties of bacteria that can lead to the risk of foodborne illnesses when consumed. Symptoms can start from the minor flu, gradually worsening, potentially leading to death.

Food Poisoning

Unless you’re reaching for raw fruits and vegetables, eating raw chicken, pork, and other meats can cause abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.

Fever

Feeling sick from eating raw meats? It’s quite common to feel quite feverish after eating something that doesn’t quite agree with you. Sudden sickness and fatigue are indications that your immune system finds certain raw foods simply indigestible. Apart from being difficult to digest, it prevents digestive enzymes from doing their job!

Thirst

Dehydration is another symptom of your body reacting negatively to the raw meat you had just eaten. Whilst some may experience severe illness, others will have the urge to drink lots and lots of water, feeling unsatisfied no matter how much they glug.

Muscle Soreness and Other Infections

Other risks of consuming undercooked bacon include skin infections, eye swelling, rashes, redness on your body, weight loss, and more. Muscle discomfort followed by burning sensations is another example of symptoms of food poisoning.

Is Cured Bacon Safe to Eat?

Cured bacon is rubbed in salt, nitrates, and sodium before it is packaged and shelved in supermarkets. This is a type of processed meat that can be transferred straight to the frying pan without any prior preparation. This method also happens to preserve the flesh of the meat, keeping it fresh for longer periods if stored properly. As long as you intend to cook cured bacon, it’s completely safe to consume. Our bodies aren’t accustomed to digesting raw flesh, which can potentially harm our immune systems.

Can you eat raw bacon: reasons not to!

Can You Eat Raw Smoked Bacon?

Smoked bacon is just as unsafe to consume as raw bacon, simply because the smoking process doesn’t mean fully cooked bacon. That being said, the smoking process does kill some bacteria, which can increase the shelf life of bacon, providing that it is stored in the refrigerator. However, bacon isn’t smoked for long enough, compared to other meats like smoked salmon, for instance, meaning that it isn’t considered safe to consume.

To preserve the meat for longer, bacon goes through a curing process; however, eating it raw remains unsafe as you can potentially risk obtaining foodborne illnesses such as food poisoning or tapeworms.

You’ll find cooking instructions printed on the packaging of smoked bacon, which signifies the importance and requirement of cooking the bacon beforehand.

Generally, smoked bacon is prepared by injecting a smokey salty solution into the raw meat. Though for a more flavorful approach, some companies smoke the raw bacon in a room with wood chips. This method, though time-consuming, produces the most tasteful outcome.

Cold Smoking Bacon

Cold smoking is essentially when meats are smoked at low temperatures, roughly 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold smoking bacon is in no way a method of cooking; rather, it is a process that adds additional flavor and preserves the meat.

Hot Smoking Bacon

Hot smoking is a method of smoking meat at higher temperatures and slowly cooking the meat through this process. When hot smoking any type of meat, temperatures can reach up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, the goal here is to alter the taste of the raw bacon, partially preserving it without it being fully cooked, so don’t be fooled by the hot smoked label slapped on the packaging. That being said, smoked bacon happens to contain plenty of high-quality protein, vitamins, iron, zinc, and potassium.

What is the Right Way to Eat Bacon?

The correct way to eat bacon or other raw meats, for that matter, is in its cooked form. Whether it’s smoking, grilling, boiling, or frying, it will ensure that the meat is properly cooked and perfectly digestible. Some cooking procedures include:

  • Boiled
  • Grilled

Begin by patting your bacon slices dry, getting rid of excess moisture before the official preparation. Combine salt, pepper, oregano, onion, and garlic paste in a spoonful of olive oil, then coat the bacon slices in this mixture. Place the slices on a preheated grill and let them grill on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip to cook the other side. Place them on a paper towel to drain and serve with mint leaves and drops of lemon juice.

Grilled

Many may agree that grilling is the healthier alternative to frying.

Can you eat raw bacon: reasons not to!

Ways to Cook Bacon

For those living a healthy lifestyle, if you remember to fully cook your bacon, it is completely safe to consume. Here are a few safe methods of cooking raw pork.

Frying

A common method of cooking raw or undercooked pork is to fry it. Though simple, mistakes can be made, so make sure that you’re cooking your bacon thoroughly till you’re left with nice and crispy bacon good enough to eat. It’s better to use a non-stick skillet; however, a non stick pan will work just as well.

The fat from the bacon will work as your cooking oil. Remove your uncooked bacon strips from the fridge, allowing them to reach room temperature before cooking with them. Don’t preheat your skillet because you’ll want your bacon to gradually heat up without immediately shriveling up.

While the pan heats up, the fat melts, eventually providing you with crisp and crunchy bacon slices. Layer your bacon strips in a single layer on the cold pan, careful that they’re not overlapping. Don’t worry if they’re too close together because they’ll shrink during the cooking process. Cook your bacon strips over medium heat, then flip as each side turns crispy. Once both sides are equally as crispy, drain the excess fat on a plate lined with paper towels. Fry up some eggs in the same pan, and enjoy!

Baking

Baking is another great method of cooking bacon properly, especially if you’re planning to feed many people. Line a rimmed baking sheet with some foil or parchment paper. Ensure that the rim is placed high enough to catch the fat dripping from the bacon.

Layer your baking sheet with bacon strips without overlapping them. Don’t preheat the oven, as you’ll want your bacon to gradually heat up with the oven at 400 degrees.

Bake your bacon for 10 to 30 minutes, checking occasionally.

Microwave

This method works for bacon strips. Line a microwave safe plate with 2 paper towels, then layer the bacon strips over them, covering with another double layering of paper towels. Cook in the microwave for about 4 to 6 minutes. The duration can vary depending on the severity of heat emitting from your microwave.

Is There a Safer Way to Eat Raw Bacon?

Naturally, eating raw meats comes with its own risks, though it is possible to consume with the appropriate preparation. Of course, one should never assume that their bodies are immune to the risks of food poisoning and other food borne illnesses; however, if you trust that your bacon has been handled properly, then here are some tips to consider before proceeding.

Go for a Reliable Source

Before consuming raw bacon, consider its place of purchase. Purchasing your uncooked bacon from grocery stores is a bit of a risk. You wouldn’t know how far that piece of bacon has traveled and the hands that had touched it before it had been packaged and sealed, ready for the isles. It’s best to purchase bacon from a reliable source, like your local butchers, before proceeding.

Don’t Rush Yourself

Try not to bite off more than you can chew, and aim to eat undercooked bacon first before gradually moving to more raw versions of the meat. Try mixing it up and combining raw and undercooked bacon so that your body becomes accustomed to this foreign meat.

Prepare Your Belly

Your stomach contains an infinite amount of bacteria. These bacteria help break down food, altering depending on what kind of food you’re consuming. Normally, the bacteria in your stomach are accustomed to breaking down cooked food; introducing raw food like bacon can essentially confuse the bacteria and lead to abdominal discomfort.

To help prepare your belly for the change, try to eat foods like yogurt or kimichi.

Ensure Everything is Safe

Despite your plans to eat raw bacon, stick to the common food safety rules. Keep your raw meat refrigerated, and avoid close proximity with other foods. Keep your bacon clean, and use septate kitchen utensils when handling it.

Control the Temperature

Bacteria thrive on meats that aren’t refrigerated, so keep your bacon below 39 degrees Fahrenheit, popping them into the refrigerator as soon as you’ve bought them home.

Keep an Eye on the Date

It’s better to eat fresh raw meat than meat that has been stored for a few days. This is to ensure that any potential bacteria hasn’t multiplied to the point where it is considered incredibly unsafe to eat. If you don’t plan to eat your raw bacon any time soon, then pop it into the freezer.

Flavors

Even raw bacon can be doused in flavors before eating. Drizzle the meat in some olive oil, and add chopped onions and spices of your choice before diving in.

Bottom Line

Eating raw bacon isn’t recommended, especially if you’re not accustomed to consuming any type of raw meat. Consuming raw or undercooked foods can lead to food-borne illnesses and other diseases that can become lethal if not treated. If you really want to eat raw bacon, then try to train your body, to accept this foreign food so that you won’t risk adopting a bad reaction!

FAQs

What Happens if You Eat Raw Bacon?

Eating uncooked bacon can potentially expose you to harmful bacteria and parasites, which can then cause a parasitic infection called trichinellosis. To kill bacteria, you’ll have to cook the meat before it is deemed safe for consumption.

Is it OK to Eat Slightly Undercooked Bacon?

Consuming undercooked or raw meat of any sort can increase the risk of food-borne illnesses typically shown through abdominal discomfort, otherwise referred to as food poisoning.

Is Bacon Already Cooked When You Buy it?

Bacon can be sold smoked, processed, undercooked, or raw, perfect for refrigerating but not eating. Unless the packaging indicates that your bacon does not need to be cooked, it is not safe to consume.