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Bacon is delicious in a variety of recipes, best served in breakfast sandwiches, pasta dishes, and burgers to name a few (check out our bacon ranch burger recipe).
However, as bacon is cured like pre-cooked deli ham, you might be curious to know: Can you eat raw bacon?
In this article, I will cover some key information about eating raw bacon, including the risks of eating raw bacon and some health concerns associated with bacon and processed meat.
Keep reading to find out more.
Can You Eat Raw Bacon? The Short Answer
The short answer? No – eating raw bacon is not considered safe to eat. This primarily comes down to the fact that consuming undercooked or raw meat of any kind increases your risk of foodborne illness, otherwise known as food poisoning.
Raw bacon and other raw meats may harbor harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites. By eating bacon raw, then, you are eliminating the cooking process that kills what could harm you. As a result, raw bacon is not considered safe to eat.
Potential Dangers of Eating Raw Bacon
Eating raw bacon can increase your risk of food poisoning. Common foodborne illnesses linked to undercooked or raw pork include:
- Tapeworms – Tapeworms are parasitic worms that reside in your intestines and can cause a variety of health concerns if not addressed. These include but are not limited to: weight loss, abdominal pain, and intestinal blockages.
- Trichinosis – Trichinosis is a disease caused by a species of parasitic roundworms that can trigger symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness to name just a few.
- Toxoplasmosis – The parasite behind this condition can endanger those with weakened immune systems.
You can kill these parasites and reduce your risk of food poisoning by cooking bacon thoroughly.
Other Health Concerns Associated with Eating Bacon
While bacon is packed full of protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals, it isn’t the healthiest option out there and should only be eaten in moderation. In addition to this, though, there are also many other health concerns associated with eating bacon that you should be aware of.
Processed meat – including bacon, some sausages, hot dogs, and salami is modified to either extend its shelf-life or change the taste. The main methods are smoking, curing, or adding salt or preservatives.
As a result of the chemicals involved in the processing, consuming processed meats like bacon is linked to an increased risk of cancer, specifically of the colon and rectum.
Additionally, nitrites and nitrates, which are added to processed meats like bacon to prevent spoilage and preserve color and flavor, can form nitrosamines in your body. These harmful compounds are carcinogenic.
Since salt is used in the curing process, bacon has a relatively high salt content. Aside from causing cancer, an excessive salt intake has also been associated with raising blood pressure and causing heart disease.
That being said, you can reduce these particular risks by limiting your intake of processed meat and alcohol, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Concerns About Processed Meat
Many studies have associated a high intake of processed meat with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. In particular, processed meat has been associated with colon, breast, liver and lung cancers to name a few.
That being said, people who tend to eat a lot of processed meat tend to have unhealthy diets in general which is bound to have an effect. However, it is still important to know the risks when incorporating bacon and other processed meats into your diet.
It is fundamental to remember that when it comes to eating processed meat, moderation is key. While processed meats are okay to have once in a while, they should not become a part of your daily diet.
This simply comes down to the fact that although bacon is delicious and is a good source of protein, there are too many health risks associated with it for it to be considered a healthy food to have everyday.
A Guide on How to Cook Bacon Safely
When it comes to cooking meat, it is important to find the right balance. While overcooking meat can often be perceived as unhealthy, undercooking is also a concern.
If you use too much heat and burn the meat, it will form harmful compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, which are associated with cancer.
Making sure that you handle and cook bacon properly are the best ways to reduce your risk of food poisoning. It is always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure that you are cooking your bacon for an adequate amount of time.
Always make sure that you keep raw bacon separate from other foods and clean surfaces, utensils, and your hands after handling it.
In addition, it’s generally recommended to cook pork products to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C). As it can be difficult to determine bacon’s temperature due to the thinness of the meat, your safest bet is to cook it until crisp.
However, there is a fine line between cooking until crisp and burning your bacon as I noted above. There are also some telltale visual indicators to look for to tell when your bacon is done.
You can cook bacon in an oven, grill it, or place it in a skillet or pan on the stove. However, as I mentioned above, you need to ensure that you find the right balance and try to ensure that you don’t under or overcook your bacon.
No, it isn’t safe to eat raw bacon. If you do eat bacon raw, you can be at risk of a variety of foodborne illnesses.
As a result, you should always make sure that your bacon is cooked thoroughly before you eat it and take the proper precautions to ensure that you’re as being as safe as possible when cooking it.
It’s also important to remember that you should only eat bacon in moderation and as part of a healthy, balanced diet. As a result, then, it’s healthiest to limit your consumption of bacon and other processed meats to ensure this.