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The Dangers Of Eating Undercooked Steak

Some of the dangers of eating undercooked steak include food poisoning, bacterial infection or digestive issues like an upset stomach. Eating meat that contains bacteria can cause many types of foodborne illnesses which can potentially lead to long term health problems. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends not eating raw or undercooked steak because meat may contain harmful bacteria. Cooking steak to the proper temperature is important to kill bacteria and viruses that may be present in the food. Cook raw steaks to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) as measured by a food thermometer before removing steak from heat. For safety and quality, allow steak to rest for at least 3 minutes before cutting or consuming. Most chefs recommend letting steak rest for a full 10 minutes after cooking.

Eating raw or undercooked steak can be bad for your health. Most issues are short term, but some long term health problems are possible. And they’re very easy to avoid. Simply cook your meat properly and you can avoid all the dangers of eating undercooked steak. Invest in a good meat thermometer to check the steak’s internal temperature before you remove it from the grill, stove or pan.

Using a meat thermometer is easy. You just stick it into the center of the meat and take the reading. If the inside of your steak is above 145 °F (62.8 °C) then it’s OK to eat. At that temperature, any bacteria present on the beef will be killed by the heat.

Below we’ll go through some of the most common dangers of eating undercooked meat.

Is It OK To Eat Steak A Little Pink?

Yes, beef is OK to eat if it’s a little pink pink inside. This is usually called Medium Rare Steak and is safe to eat assuming the outside has been cooked properly. Bacteria primarily lives on the outer surface of the steak, and doesn’t penetrate the inside. Studies have been done to test for bacteria after cooking a medium rare steak, and the only bacteria found were from the utensils used to cook the steak. If you handle your meat with clean tools this is easy to avoid.

Most great chefs sear the outside of the meat with very high heat and then slow cook the inside. By searing the outside, surface bacteria is killed off. Since bacteria doesn’t usually live inside the beef, it should be safe to eat. Medium rare is a very common temperature to eat steak. But it has to be cooked properly. If you’re a novice at home chef, I’d recommend cooking a little more well done just to be on the safe side.

A chef once told me, the rarer the steak, the higher your risk of problems. Especially when cooking at home because most home grills and stove tops don;t reach high enough temperatures to properly sear the beef. Restaurants usually don’t have that problem because they have commercial grade equipment. So they can safely cook their steaks rare while still killing bacteria.

How To Avoid The Dangers Of Eating Undercooked Steak

The U.S Department of Agriculture recommends that steaks be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) . This is for safety because it kills bacteria and parasites that can live on your meat.

Measuring the internal temperature of meat is easy with a food thermometer. All you do is stick it into the middle of the steak while its cooking and the thermometer will give you the temperature. If the temperature is too low let the steak cook a little longer.

I recommend searing the outside of your steak with a very high heat. This is very important if you like your steak a little pink. Most bacteria lives on the outer surface of the meat and not inside it. Searing the meat will kill surface bacteria and make it safer to eat. Although I still recommend cooking the middle until it’s at least medium well.

You should also let the meat sit for around 10 minutes after you remove it from the heat. The steak will continue cooking inside as it rests. This not only makes the steak safer to eat but also improves its taste and tenderness.

Here are a few more tips you can follow:

  • Raw meat should always be separated from cooked or ready foods to avoid contamination.
  • If you’re not serving cooked food right away, wrap it up before placing it in the freezer or refrigerator.
  • Wash your hands every time you touch raw meat to avoid spreading germs and bacteria.
  • Wash anything that touches raw meat like surfaces and utensils.
  • Buy and use a food thermometer.
  • Be careful with raw meat juices. They can drip onto other surfaces which can cause contamination.

Control Your Steak’s Temperature

One way to help avoid some of the dangers caused by eating undercooked steak is controlling its temperature when its not being cooked.

The bacteria that can cause food poisoning grows rapidly when meat is unrefrigerated. It’s important to keep raw meat refrigerated (below 5°C) until you’re ready to cook. Don’t leave raw meat laying around for very long waiting to be cooked. The only exception to this rule is aged or frozen beef. Generally dry or wet aged beef should sit until it’s temperature rises a bit close to room temperature. The same is true of frozen steak. It’s generally safe to let a steak defrost until you cook it.

To keep raw meat safe:

  • Refrigerate your steaks as soon as possible after buying them.
  • Don’t leave raw steaks in a hot car. If your not coming right home after shopping, keep raw meat in an insulated cooler. I always bring one in my trunk when I go to the butcher. It helps keep the meat cool.
  • Put your raw meat in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home. Don’t leave steak sitting out at room temperature.

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella. Many people refer to salmonellosis as salmonella poisoning.

Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of animals including birds. It can be transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated by animal feces. This includes meat.

Eating undercooked steak is a common cause of salmonella poisoning. The bacteria can survive in the digestive tract of animals without making them sick. Eating undercooked steak can lead to ingestion of the salmonella bacteria, which makes humans sick. The symptoms can include abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea. The bacteria can then spread from your intestines to other parts of your body such as bones, joints, and bloodstream.

The good news is that salmonella poisoning is fairly easy to avoid. Simply cook your steak properly and wash all your cooking utensils and surfaces. I recommend using anti-bacterial soaps whenever you deal with food. And make sure to wash your hands too. Especially if you’ve touched the meat.

Listeriosis

Listeria monocytogenes is a type of bacteria found in soil, poultry, and cattle. Although it’s uncommon, eating large amounts of undercooked steak can cause a listeria infection. Most infections are caused by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products, not steak. But it is a possibility.

A listeria infection typically manifests itself within 24 hours of ingestion. You may experience body aches, nausea, fever, and diarrhea.

This is another bacterial infection caused by eating undercooked steak that’s pretty easy to avoid if you cook your steak properly. Heat your steak to the proper temperature and sear the outside to kill bacteria in and on your meat. Also clean utensils, hands and surfaces with an anti-bacterial soap.

E.coli Food Poisoning

Escherichia coli is a type of bacteria that has several strains. It’s generally found in the intestines of cattle. Most strains are considered harmless, but some can cause serious food poisoning or stomach upset if present in undercooked steak.

E.coli bacteria poisoning can cause a life-threatening health complication known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome. This can result in sudden kidney failure when the bacterial toxins trigger the destruction of circulating red blood cells.

E.coli is another food poisoning from undercooked steak that’s avoidable if you cook meat to a high enough temperature. It’s also found on surfaces so wash your utensils and surfaces with anti-bacterial soap. This includes your hands too.

Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacter bacteria is normally found in the digestive tract of poultry and cattle. It can lead to food poisoning if ingested by eating undercooked meat. The symptoms of infection usually begin after 2 days of eating the bacteria. Usually this bacteria is found with poultry but it’s occasionally found on beef so you need to be careful.

The good news is that campylobacter bacteria poisoning can be avoided. Cook your steak properly and wash all your cooking utensils and surfaces. I recommend using anti-bacterial soaps whenever you deal with food. And make sure to wash your hands too. Especially if you’ve touched the meat.

Parasitic Infections

Raw or undercooked steak may contain many strains of bacteria that can make you sick. Giardiasis and tapeworms are examples of parasitic infections you can get from eating raw or undercooked beef.

As a general rule, cooking your steaks to a high enough temperature will kill parasites. Parasites and bacteria generally don’t survive for very long at high heat. If you want to avoid illness by eating undercooked steak, get a meat thermometer and cook your steak to at least 145 °F (62.8 °C). Also wash your hands, surfaces and utensils with an anti-bacterial soap.

How Long After Eating Undercooked Steak Will I Feel Sick?

If you’ve eaten undercooked steak you may not feel it for a while. The time it takes symptoms to start can vary based on what the issue was. Sickness typically starts in about 1 to 3 days. But symptoms can begin anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 weeks after eating contaminated meat.

Why You Should Avoid Eating Undercooked Steak

The reason why you should avoid eating undercooked steak is because you don’t want to get sick.

Eating undercooked steak can cause bacterial and parasitic infections. Pregnant women, children, and those with a weak immune system or suffering from chronic illnesses can experience serious health complications. Most healthy people will generally have mild symptoms like an upset stomach,, but not always. Even young healthy people can get food poisoning so you need to be careful when handling and cooking raw meat.

Cooking steak at the recommended internal temperatures kills germs and bacteria present in food. It’s almost impossible to tell if meat is contaminated just by looking at it so play it safe. Wash your utensils, cooking surfaces and hands with anti-bacterial soap. This will keep bacteria that transfers from the raw meat to other areas. It’s not uncommon for bacteria to spread from raw meat, to a fork and then onto other food. When a utensil touches raw meat, wash it before you use it again.

Bacteria spreads on surfaces too. If you place raw meat on a cutting board, wash the board before placing other food on it. No one wants to get sick by eating undercooked steak and it’s avoidable if your careful and cook the meat to the recommended temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) as measured by a food thermometer.

Summary: The Dangers Of Eating Undercooked Steak

Some of the dangers of eating undercooked steak include food poisoning, bacterial infection or digestive issues like an upset stomach. Eating meat that contains bacteria can cause many types of foodborne illnesses which can potentially lead to long term health problems. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends not eating raw or undercooked steak because meat may contain harmful bacteria. Cooking steak to the proper temperature is important to kill bacteria and viruses that may be present in the food. Cook raw steaks to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) as measured by a food thermometer before removing steak from heat. For safety and quality, allow steak to rest for at least 3 minutes before cutting or consuming. Most chefs recommend letting steak rest for a full 10 minutes after cooking.

Eating raw or undercooked steak can be bad for your health. Most issues are short term, but some long term health problems are possible. And they’re very easy to avoid. Simply cook your meat properly and you can avoid all the dangers of eating undercooked steak. Invest in a good meat thermometer to check the steak’s internal temperature before you remove it from the grill, stove or pan.

Using a meat thermometer is easy. You just stick it into the center of the meat and take the reading. If the inside of your steak is above 145 °F (62.8 °C) then it’s OK to eat. At that temperature, any bacteria present on the beef will be killed by the heat.

If you have any questions or comments about steak, email any time.

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