Is it riskier to eat raw beef, pork and chicken than fish? – 13/10/2022

Brazil is the third country that eats the most beef in the world. These parts consume an average of 34.4 kg of product per year, according to data for 2021 from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Although some people prefer it rare, “bloody” as they say, eating it raw is rare. But is there a reason for this, since we have a habit of eating raw fish, but not beef, pork and chicken?

Veterinary doctor Renata Ernlund Freitas de Macedo explains that, in theory, any meat could be eaten raw if it came from a healthy animal, which did not have diseases or parasites, and if all the steps to obtain it were performed in a hygienic way, without cross-contamination. .

“However, given that meat can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria at various stages of the slaughtering and meat processing process, or even after leaving the industry, in the retail trade or in the consumer preparation process, in the inadequate handling and storage, raw consumption not recommended “, explains Macedo, researcher in quality and safety of meat and meat products and coordinator of the Degree Course in Animal Sciences at PUCPR (Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná).

In the case of fish, for cultural and flavor reasons, it is eaten raw. The habit of eating raw fish is linked to a cultural issue imported from countries of Asian origin. “In addition, the tissue structure of the fish is softer and allows for greater digestibility, which facilitates its consumption in nature”, says Andréa Pinho. Flowers, Master in Food, Nutrition and Health and Assistant Professor at UFBA (Federal University of Bahia) and Centro Universitário UniRuyin Salvador.

“Beef, pork and poultry, because they have a more fibrous constitution, make the chewing and digestion process difficult, as well as not being as tasty raw compared to some fish,” says Igor Maia Marinho, an infectious disease specialist at the HCFMUSP (Hospital das Clínicas, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo) and coordinator of the infectious area of ​​the hospital Leforte/Dasa (St. Paul).

There is also a tendency to eat raw meat, but classic recipes also have their risks, due to the high possibility of contamination by bacteria, viruses and parasites. “Same carpacciosteak tartare or raw kibbeh, prepared with raw beef, there is a great risk of contamination, “he says Flowers.

What is the danger of eating raw meat?

Raw meat from dangerous and contaminated sources can potentially cause serious illness. The most common conditions are caused by the following pathogens:

  • genus bacteria Salmonella: cause foodborne infections and infected people have symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea and abdominal distension;
  • Bacterium Escherichia coli: causes symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain;
  • protozoa Toxoplasma sp: can cause toxoplasmosis, a disease which, in its severe form, causes fever, swollen lymph nodes in the body, impaired vision, brain and other organs;
  • Parasite Tapeworm sp: can cause intestinal worms, muscle or brain diseases.

According to Marinho, contamination by bacteria and other microorganisms can occur while the slaughter animal is still alive, during the production process, for example, due to the absence or poor specific health care and / or the failure to identify the animals early. sick animals, or after slaughter, usually due to poor conservation.

And even with advances in the processes of creating, slaughtering and distributing these animals for human consumption, the risk of contamination still exists and care must be taken.

How to prevent contamination

Meat washing is neither adequate nor sufficient to eliminate microorganisms, if any, according to Angélica Simone Cravo Pereira, head of the beef cattle research and meat science laboratories at FMVZUSP (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences at the Federal University of São Paulo).

The expert recommends that, if the desire is to consume raw meat, it is necessary to observe some characteristics when buying. “Beef and pork must have firm fat, bright red color, pleasant smell and as little liquid as possible. In the case of poultry meat, the color of the skin varies from white to yellow and the surface must be shiny and firm to the touch.” , sign.

The fish must also come from a safe source and be fresh or properly stored by freezing or chilling methods so as not to present any health risks.

This type of meat can contain harmful materials in the air and soil, which are dragged by rain into rivers and oceans and end up contaminating fish, such as industrial pollutants, biological toxins, microorganisms and parasites that cause disease.

Regardless of the type of meat to be consumed, it is important to take into account its origin, purchase products with the inspection seal on the package, check the expiration date and observe if the food is in adequate storage and conservation conditions.

If the consumption is made at home, the person must maintain hygiene measures during preparation to avoid cross-contamination, as well as ensure good refrigeration. In the case of restaurants, check if the place has health surveillance clearance. If there is any suspicion of possible contamination such as fetid odor, color change and / or the presence of unidentified secretions or liquids, do not consume the product.

Remembering that if you want to eat raw meat, there is always a risk. “Regardless of the choice, there is always a biological risk of consuming raw or undercooked meat, whatever its origin, sensory characteristics or origin. The elderly, children and sick or convalescent people must not, under any circumstances, eat raw or undercooked meat, as they belong to so-called risk groups, “he says Luciano dos Santos Bersot, professor at the Federal University of Paraná, at the Food and Water Quality Inspection and Control Laboratory, at the Department of Veterinary Sciences.

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