Eating raw meat

Eating raw meat is a dietary behavior that can sometimes be unhygienic or even risky.

There is not just one type of meat or cut for this crudity: raw meat can be served carpaccio , minced, “tartare” (finely chopped with a knife) or prepared in many other variations. Furthermore, contrary to what one might believe, the majority of the population feeds on it systematically; many types of sausages ( salami , dry sausage , soppressata , finocchiona, zia ferrarese etc.) – as well as savory meats raw ham , speck , dried beef , dried cracklings , capocollo , loin, culatello , bresaola etc.) – are NOT included heat treated and undergo exclusively certain conservation processes, including: salting, smoking , drying, spicing, dehydration by pressing, etc.
It is therefore possible to divide raw meat into two very distinct strands: preserved raw meat and fresh raw meat . Preserved raw meat comes mainly from cattle (young and adult), pigs and horses for slaughter (salami and dried sausages from some birds such as duck or goose are little known). Fresh raw meat, on the other hand, is mainly obtained from: young cattle (or at most veal ), slaughter horse and duck.
It is important to remember that in order to appreciate good raw meat it is essential that it is soft and medium lean; in order to obtain a similar result it is necessary that the raw material consists of:

  • Young animals
  • Sedentary animals
  • Skeletal muscles little involved in the animal’s walking.

Choose meat to eat raw

The reader will ask himself: “… why must the muscle from which the raw meat originates belong to a young, sedentary animal and constitute a district that is little involved in the fundamental movements of the beast ?”
Actually the answer is simple; Skeletal muscles are made up of tissues that respond proportionally to the physical and hormonal stimuli induced by the animal’s lifestyle. In slaughter animals or game , they react exactly like those of the SPORTING man; giving a banal example: the athlete is characterized by a developed locomotor system and equipped with toned , lean muscle tissue and covered with very thick connective tissue capsules . Conversely, a sedentary man should have a higher fat mass and less toned muscles with thinner and more delicate connective structures. By the same principle, the meat of a sedentary animal is always more tender than that belonging to a more active animal (just think of the morphological difference between species; for example between a hare or a pheasant or a wild boar , which live in the wild , and a rabbit or a chicken or a backyard pig ); the same applies to the old age of the animal and the anatomical region of origin. A very young specimen still has poorly developed muscles because it moves less than an adult; at the same time, a less stressed muscle such as the ” fillet ” (internal muscle of the hind quarter) will always be more tender than a more highly recruited one such as the “loin” (deputized for the extension of the spine ).

Risks of eating raw meat

More than from a nutritional point of view, eating raw meat differs from a diet based on cooked foods, especially in terms of food HYGIENE .
It is likely that readers have already heard someone ADVISE a pregnant woman against eating cured meats and salted or raw meats ; the reason is very simple: some animals, especially pigs and birds (chicken, hen , pigeon , etc.), are POTENTIAL carriers of pathogens such as parasites , bacteria and viruses .

It would be advisable to make an accurate classification of all the possibilities of contagion , differentiating bacterial contamination (generally induced by an infection but more often by bad slaughter or cross-contamination) from viral contamination (less widespread but no less dangerous; the virus acts in a specific manner on the cells , therefore many viruses harmful to one species could be harmless to others… but this is not a fixed rule) and finally by that attributable to parasites ( present directly in the muscle tissue such as toxoplasma , tapeworm , trichinella , roundworm or pinworms ; but also those that appear in meat slaughtered at a later time such as amoeba and giardia ) . A separate discussion concerns prion contagion ; in short, prions are polypeptides (chains of amino acids ) which, for one reason or another, at a given moment and apparently without reason, CHANGE in structure, altering the function of the tissue they constitute; the most well-known and feared prions are those that give rise to “Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy” ( BSE ), also known as ” mad cow ” disease; these are constituents of the nervous tissue and their structural modification determines “spongy” lesions (holes and trabeculae) in the animal brain and, with very high probability, also in that of humans. Except in the latter, in the other cases mentioned above (except for meat widely contaminated by “gram-” bacteria ), cooking kills the pathogen, avoiding most of the risks of eating raw meatNB . Interested readers will be able to delve deeper into the topic by consulting more specific and detailed veterinary or food hygiene texts; Furthermore, there are other similar problems linked to the consumption of raw fish . The latter can be explored in more detail on the website in the article: ” Raw fish – risks and benefits of raw fish “.

Benefits of eating raw meat

To be honest, the benefits of eating raw meat are not many. These are mainly limited to:

  • Preservation of greater hydration of the dish; in this way (as with all other fresh foods) the amount of water ingested is increased, helping to maintain the state of hydration (however, these are not very significant percentages)
  • Conservation of electrolytes contained in muscle fibers ; with cooking the mineral salts of the tissues tend to flow out with the cooking water, while by eating raw meat it is possible to improve the intake of iron (Fe), potassium (K), sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg – little ), chlorine (Cl) and calcium (Ca – little).
  • Preservation of the molecular integrity of numerous vitamins . Some of these, being thermolabile , tend to become inactivated with cooking; we are talking about: Thiamine (vit. B1), Riboflavin ( vit. B2 ), Pantothenic acid ( vit. B5 ) and Retinol (or vit. A – a little).

Even the digestibility of the food, if compared to that of medium cooked meat (but with the necessary differences between the preparations), is sufficiently compromised. Heat facilitates protein denaturation at least as much as chewing (accentuated by grinding) and the acid reaction of hydrochloric acid and pepsin secreted in the stomach ; ultimately, properly cooked meat is more digestible than raw meat .