Raw meat: when it is dangerous to eat it and what to consider

Updated on 5/4/2022 at 16:48

  • Some diets include raw meat.
  • However, not all types of meat are suitable for this.
  • There is also a risk of getting an infection from eating it.

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Opinions differ when it comes to raw meat: While some people get stomach aches just thinking about it, others swear by this diet, including American reality star Heidi Montag.

It is said that he likes to eat raw meat to increase his fertility. “I’ve been trying to conceive for over a year and a half,” Montag recently told People magazine. Meat is a “great source of nutrients” and she feels “so much more energy, clarity, increased libido, and an overall improvement in my chronic pain” on this diet. However, there is no scientific evidence of this effect.

Is eating raw meat a healthy treat or is it better to stay away from it? What should you pay attention to? And who should completely give up raw meat? We answer the most important questions.

What diet includes raw meat?

Some diets are generally quite high in meat, for example the Paleo diet, which is based on a diet attributed to the Stone Age. A ketogenic diet, that is, a diet rich in fat and protein, often includes a comparatively large amount of meat. The consumption of raw meat is often an aggravating factor in these forms of nutrition: Paleo diets include, for example, Raw Paleo with raw meat.

Although the consumption of raw meat may seem unusual at first glance: “Beef and other dark red meats such as venison are known as tartare or carpaccio in gourmet cuisine,” says Daniela Krehl, specialist consultant in the department of Food and Nutrition of Bavarian Consumer Service Center in conversation with our editors. Because the meat is finely sliced ​​and highly seasoned, it can also be enjoyed raw. However, hygiene is extremely important with raw meat.

Can the body use raw meat at all?

When preparing meat, it is usually heated to a high temperature. “Possibly some vitamins can be destroyed by the frying or cooking process,” says Krehl. However, raw meat in one piece is not particularly digestible and is also tough. “That’s because the proteins were not denatured with heat,” says the expert. “As a result, the protein in meat is also less digestible.” Whole pieces of meat also lack the roast aromas. They are formed by frying through the so-called Maillard reaction.

What’s the problem with raw meat?

Raw meat can make you sick and cause serious infections. When consumed, bacteria, viruses and parasites can be transmitted.

Isn’t there germ-free meat?

In fact, it is impossible to obtain germ-free meat: the first germs infest the meat during slaughter. Surfaces are often heavily soiled by particles containing feces. That is why it is mainly intestinal bacteria that first colonize fresh meat.

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, even under perfectly hygienic conditions after slaughter, there are about 1,000 germs per square centimeter on the surface of beef and about 10,000 on the surface of pork. It is true that not all of them are dangerous and sick, but it is enough to catch some of the few pathogenic germs when eating them.

Don’t you notice when meat is contaminated with germs?

Spoiled meat can often be distinguished by smell and appearance. But: Disease-causing bacteria can also multiply in meat without being visible from the outside. Salmonella, for example, cannot be identified, and EHEC or clostridial pathogens cannot be identified by the smell, taste, or color of meat.

What should you keep in mind if you want to eat raw meat?

To absolute hygiene and adequate refrigeration. Therefore, it is better to use thermal bags or rechargeable batteries for transport and consume the meat as quickly as possible. If you have to store it for a short time, it is best to place it on the glass shelf above the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, because that is where it cools the most.

However, there are always bacteria in refrigerated meat. Therefore, you can never be absolutely sure that you will stay healthy after eating raw meat. Chopped meat, such as minced meat or goulash, spoils particularly quickly.

What meat should you never eat raw?

Under no circumstances should raw pork or poultry be eaten. “The risk of infection is too great here,” says Daniela Krehl. Poultry, for example, is often contaminated with salmonella. Yersinia, for example, which can cause gastrointestinal illness, multiplies in pork. In addition, pork and poultry are often colonized by the Campylobacter germ, which also causes intestinal infections.

Listeria, which can also be spread through raw meat and raw milk, is also considered particularly dangerous. In the worst cases, listeriosis can be fatal if the bacteria infect the brain and organs.

Who would be better off if they gave up completely?

“Pregnant women should generally avoid raw meat,” says Krehl. If they get listeriosis, it can cause a miscarriage or cause brain damage to the fetus. But people with weakened immune systems and children should also avoid raw meat.

About the expert:

Daniela Krehl studied ecotrophology and works at the Bavarian consumer advisory center as a consultant in the food and nutrition department. As a contact person for the press, he answers questions about nutrition and consumer policy.

Sources used:

  • Conversation with Daniela Krehl, Specialist Advisor at the Food and Nutrition Department of the Bavarian Consumer Advisory Center
  • Federal Institute for Risk Assessment: Questions and answers about spoiled meat
  • Robert Koch Institute: Listeriosis
  • North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advisory Center: Prepare meat safely


Fresh fruits and vegetables are important to a healthy diet. But be careful: some types of vegetables should never be eaten raw, or even chopped in a smoothie. (Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ALEAIMAGE)

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