Raw Meat vs Cooked Meat


Hello and welcome to Farm Traveler where we’re not at a farm again, this is obviously a kitchen, but we will get to a farm one day.  I promise!

Today I’ve got some beef with you…literally.  We have some beef, pork, chicken and fish…well fish in the form of sushi.  So maybe you’ve wondered by you can eat some meats, like fish and beef raw or even just under cooked while other meats like pork and chicken need to be cooked thoroughly.  A lot of this has to do with how the item has been processed, stored and even cooked, ensuring that all the bacteria has been killed so you don’t get sick. But, if by chance you do get sick, most food borne illnesses are due to improper cooking techniques and not bad meats.  

Fish is relatively healthy to eat raw, so long that it has been frozen at some point before being consumed.  The freezing process kills off most bacteria, leaving it safe to eat, much like when you cook fish. That means technically gas station sushi should be ok to eat as long as it was frozen after being processed, but who really wants to take that chance?

Chicken and Pork are very different in that they need to be cooked thoroughly in order to kill off any bacteria, like salmonella and e.coli, that might be on the surface of the meat.  Chicken also has a less dense flesh then pork and even beef, which allows bacteria to travel deep into the flesh, all the more reason to make sure your chicken isn’t pink on the inside.  Cooking chicken to its ideal temperature of 165 degree F ensures all bacteria, both inside and on the surface, have been killed off, just like Han Solo in the Force Awakens.

Beef is a very dense meat, which doesn’t allow bacteria to penetrate the flesh.  But any bacteria that might be found on the surface can be killed off with a quick sear.  That’s why it’s totally okay to eat a rare steak.

Now, if you’ve ever cooked beef or almost any red meat, you may have noticed a red liquid before and even after you cook it.  Most people say ‘Oh, it’s just blood’ which is incorrect. When an animal is processed, all the blood is removed as quickly as possible to help ensure the freshness of the meat.  That red liquid is actually a mixture of water and myoglobin, with myoglobin being a protein found in the muscle. When meat is frozen, the water inside expands and then turns into ice crystals, those ice crystals then rupture the muscle cells.  When thawed out, that water is released from the cell and carry’s some myoglobin with it. The same thing happens with chicken but the liquid is less red due to smaller amounts of myoglobin. So next time your Uncle Phil says he likes his steak still bloody, call him out!

Now you know why some meats can be eaten raw, while others need to be cooked thoroughly in order to avoid getting a food borne illness.  And remember that keeping your cooking surfaces and your hands clean also helps prevent spreading any bacteria.

Thanks for joining us and please be sure to share this video and check out farm traveler at the links below.  Now, you’ll excuse me, dinner isn’t going to cook itself!

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