Is it safe to eat smoked bacon without grilling?

  • The reason I ask this is due to the fact nothing on the bacon packaging indicates it can or cannot be eaten 'raw' and in general eating raw meat is a bad idea.

    I find the same problem with cucumbers. The store label does not state if I can eat them raw or should I cook them first. Moreover, no one knows how to cook them.

  • rumtscho

    rumtscho Correct answer

    10 years ago

    In such a case, for any food item, ask yourself a question: In a 19th century household, would it have been kept in the cellar, or eaten immediately?

    For bacon, it is common knowledge (or at least I think everybody knows it) that it was kept in a cellar for long time. So this is definitely not a food which perishes too quickly. You can eat it raw. (In fact, I often do when I need a quick sandwich). It can be a bit tough to tear apart with your teeth, so pre-cut it.

    The reason for this is that bacon is cured meat. There are two reasons not to eat raw meat: taste and food safety. Taste is individual, some people are OK with the taste and eat raw meat as long as they can find a source of meat fresh enough (think sashimi, carpaccio, steak tartare). Food safety is not a problem with bacon. The process of turning pork to bacon includes salt and smoke. Both of these kill bacteria, create an environment which is not hospitable to new colonization (dry, salty), and give the meat a new flavor which is better than the raw meat.

    If you are now asking yourself why we are bothering with the fridge for bacon and other ex-"cellar foods" at all, there is still a reason. First, most of us don't have a convenient cellar at 12° - 15°C, and not only is the bacon's life shortened if kept at usual kitchen temperatures, it also doesn't taste too good. It is just greasy. Second, you seldom get dry bacon at the supermarket; even if the curing process doesn't include brining, bacon is often aged much less than in old times, and then packed in vacuum, so it doesn't get really dry on the outside. So bacteria could very well start growing on it outside of the freezer. Inside the freezer, it keeps much longer than raw meat, and is certainly OK for consumption without frying. I guess that the popularity of fried bacon is mainly due to taste reasons.

    It's safe to eat raw bacon? And to think, I've wasted so much time cooking it!

    Raw meat is supposedly significantly less digestible than cooked, one of the primary reasons for cooking food in general in the first place.

    I can't remember what we used to do back then.. it was just so long ago.

    I was under the impression that the bacon I buy from the grocery store and the aged, cured bacon people stuck in their cellars back in the day are totally different beasts.

    Note, however, that Trichinella, the parasite most people are concerned about in bacon, is not a bacteria. It's apparently not as prevalent as it once was. Consider this website: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/happen-eat-undercooked-bacon-3110.html Also, just because they did something in the 19th century doesn't really make it safe.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM