Can You Get Sick From Eating Raw Beef

Steer Clear of Salmonellosis

Eating raw or undercooked beef can lead to salmonellosis, an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria can inhabit the digestive tract of cattle without causing illness in the animals, according to the CDC.

Usually, symptoms appear 12 to 72 hours after consuming beef contaminated with salmonella. These include:

  • Fever
  • Stomach cramps
  • Watery diarrhea

Symptoms usually persist for 2 to 7 days, although normal bowel habits may not return for several months in some people, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Salmonella food poisoning can develop into an invasive disease in which the bacteria spreads from the intestines to other parts of the body, such as the bloodstream, joints or bones, per the CDC.

When the bacteria spread from the intestines to other areas of the body, invasive salmonellosis can be fatal.

Campylobacter bacteria are commonly found in the digestive tract of cattle and poultry and can contaminate the meat and lead to food poisoning unless properly cooked. Most cases of Campylobacter food poisoning, known as campylobacteriosis, are caused by Campylobacter jejuni, according to the CDC.

Usually starting two to four days after ingesting the bacteria, symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Although most people heal in seven to ten days, campylobacter can enter the bloodstream. This has the potential to be fatal for those with compromised immune systems.

The weeks after a bout of campylobacteriosis, the CDC reports that approximately one in every 1,000 people gets Guillain-Barre syndrome. Temporary paralysis brought on by Guillain-Barre syndrome can last for several weeks or months.

There are bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes in soil, cattle, and poultry. Consuming uncooked or undercooked beef increases the risk of contracting Listeria.

Per the CDC, Listeria infection can lead to:

  • Fever
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Body aches

These people’s symptoms usually go better in a few days, but the CDC notes that some groups are more susceptible to invasive disease, or listeriosis. Pregnant women, newborns, adults over 65, and those with compromised or suppressed immune systems are among the high-risk categories.

Flu-like symptoms typically occur in pregnant people with listeriosis, which can lead to miscarriage, preterm delivery, stillbirth or infection of the baby, according to the CDC.

The symptoms of listeriosis can vary among other high-risk groups, contingent on the specific part of the body where the bacteria infection occurs. Bloodstream and nervous system invasions are particularly frequent and can be fatal.

Consuming raw beef is dangerous, as it can harbor illness-causing bacteria, including Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Shigella, and Staphylococcus aureus, all of which are otherwise destroyed with heat during the cooking process (2, 3, 4).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises people who are prone to foodborne illnesses to stay away from raw or undercooked beef altogether (7)

Eating raw beef is recommended by some because the nutrients are easier for your body to absorb and digest.

Animal-derived raw foods like beef are most likely to be contaminated with bacteria that cause illness.

This article discusses the safety of eating raw beef and investigates whether doing so has any additional health benefits over eating cooked beef.

Eating Raw Beef Safely

Raw beef has its share of harmful bacteria and can be problematic, much like raw chicken and pork. While eating raw chicken or pork is not as safe as it once was, it is still considered healthier. A few of the illnesses or viruses that consuming raw steak may bring on are salmonellosis, listeriosis, and E Coli poisoning. The only way to guarantee that the majority of dangerous bacteria that might be remaining on beef is to cook it to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees and let it rest for a few minutes.

If you’re determined to eat raw meat, though, it doesn’t have to be a bad idea. The most crucial action you can take is to carefully source your beef. Visit your local butcher, who is knowledgeable about the origins of each slab of beef, or place an online order for meat from a reliable supplier. To confirm that the meat is from the same animal, it’s also a good idea to buy whole slabs of beef and cut it yourself, or have the butcher do it for you.

If you won’t be eating your raw steak right away, place it straight in the refrigerator or freezer after you get it home. Keep your steak covered, out of the way of anything that could drip on it, and away from other foods. To keep it nice and cold, make sure your refrigerator is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower!