Fish and Meat You Should Never Eat Raw

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Fish and Meat You Should Never Eat Raw

Raw meat is a delicacy that’s enjoyed by just about every culture around the world. When prepared properly, it can be insanely delicious – think of an expertly prepared steak tartare at a French brasserie, or a beautifully crafted piece of sushi – but eating uncooked or undercooked meat can pose some major health risks. These are 10 meats you should never eat raw. 

Even though it’s generally considered safe to eat some types of raw meat (like high-quality beef and sushi-grade fish that have been properly handled), some meats should never be eaten raw, period. While there of course isn’t a 100 percent chance that eating these meats raw will make you sick (raw oysters, for example, are enjoyed by millions but still carry a risk of food poisoning), some of them – like poultry – aren’t eaten raw for a very good reason: they’re essentially poisonous when eaten raw or undercooked and all but guaranteed to make you miserable if not thoroughly cooked. 

Eating raw meat carries risks of foodborne illness, because they may be contaminated with pathogens, bacteria, and parasites including e. Coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. By cooking meat to the proper temperature, those microorganisms are killed, making it safe to consume. According to the FDA, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. This means that about one in six Americans will get food poisoning in any given year, and even though it may not be severe enough to hospitalize or kill them, it can still be very, very unpleasant. 

If you like your burgers medium rare, the odds of you getting sick are relatively slim. But if you decide to eat some raw chicken on a dare, then you might not have a great week. These are 10 meats you should never eat raw, and here are even more foods that you might not know can be very dangerous


Pork chops cooked with garlic in a cast iron pan
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Raw pork may contain parasites, especially Trichinella spiralis, which causes trichinosis. If not cooked to the proper temperature, pork can infect you with this parasite, which can cause symptoms including muscle pain, fever, and digestive issues.


Conveyor Belt Food.Factory for the production of food from meat.Production line with packaging .Food products meat chicken in plastic packaging on the conveyor.
Source: Nataliia Maksymenko / Shutterstock.com

Raw poultry, including chicken and turkey, can harbor harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. If poultry isn’t cooked through, there’s a very high risk of contracting food poisoning from these bacteria, which can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Exceptions include game birds like duck, goose, and squab, which are often served rare to medium rare.

Ground Meat or Sausage

meat and grinder close up
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Ground meat is inherently more dangerous than whole cuts of meat to eat raw, because if pathogens exist on the outside of the muscle, those will be mixed throughout when it’s ground, and the higher surface area increases the risk of those pathogens to be present. The meat used in steak tartare is usually ground or chopped by hand at the restaurant, so the risk of contamination is low. Raw supermarket hamburger meat? Not so much. 

Wild Game

Raw Wild Game Meat of Venison dear ready for cooking. Dark background. Top view. Copy space.
Source: Mironov Vladimir / Shutterstock.com

Wild game meats such as deer, elk, wild boar, and bear may carry parasites and bacteria that can cause infections if consumed raw. They need to be cooked thoroughly, in order to kill any potential pathogens. Some restaurants have game on the menu, like venison, that’s cooked medium rare, but in those instances it’s safe to eat because it’s farm-raised. 


Vongole shellfish mollusc clem with garlic butter
Source: Andrey Starostin / Shutterstock.com

Raw shellfish including oysters, clams, and mussels, especially from warm coastal waters, can be infected with Vibrio bacteria. If eaten, this bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal distress and even possibly death. Mussels are rarely if ever consumed raw, but eating raw oysters and clams is always a crapshoot. 

Freshwater Fish

Freshwater fish carp (Cyprinus carpio) in the beautiful clean pound. Underwater shot in the lake. Wild life animal. Carp in the nature habitat with nice background with water lily.
Source: Rostislav Stefanek / Shutterstock.com

If you visit a sushi restaurant, nearly all the fish you’ll consume has one thing in common: it’s ocean fish. Freshwater fish, especially largemouth bass and haddock, can harbor parasites such as tapeworms and roundworms, as well as bacteria like Salmonella and Vibrio. Sushi restaurants freeze their fish before serving it just to be safe, but with freshwater fish, it really needs to be thoroughly cooked to neutralize any foodborne illness risk. 


pork liver offal fresh piece of pork meat healthy meal food snack on the table copy space food background rustic top view keto or paleo diet
Source: Alesia.Bierliezova / Shutterstock.com

Raw liver, especially from pigs, can harbor large quantities of parasites and pathogens, and it must be thoroughly cooked in order to kill them. 

Processed Meats

Delicious canned pink ham with salt, spices and herbs on a dark concrete background
Source: Tetiana Chernykova / Shutterstock.com

Pregnant women, newborns, and people with compromised immune systems should be wary of eating processed meats like deli meats because of the increased risk of Listeria contamination during processing, slicing, or packaging. The same goes for hot dogs, sausages, and other processed meats; it should all be cooked thoroughly before consumption. 

Precooked Meats

chicken, onions, cucumbers and lettuce sandwich
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Precooked meats, like the grilled chicken breasts and roast beef that you find behind your supermarket deli counter, may also harbor harmful bacteria if they’re not stored or handled properly. If you’re pregnant, elderly, or have a compromised immune system, it’s best to either heat them thoroughly before consumption or avoid them altogether.

Extra: Eggs

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Chugging down raw eggs may make you feel like Rocky, but it might also knock you out in another way. While not technically meat, raw or undercooked eggs can harbor Salmonella, a potentially deadly pathogen. It’s recommended you always cook your eggs through when you’re cooking up your breakfast that’s worthy of being served at the best brunch restaurants in America.


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