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Old 04-07-2004, 09:25 PM
Standup Karmic Standup Karmic is offline
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Why can I eat my steak rare w/o getting sick?

It is well known that meat such as chicken and pork should be thoroughly cooked before consumption. Failure to do so can result in contracting a variety of food borne illnesses. From chicken one can get samonella, from pork, trichinosis. Consuming undercooked fish can get you a lovely infestation of the Anisakis worm larvae.

Given the frequency that beef (by beef, I mean steaks and roasts, rather than the ground variety) is eaten in a less-than-fully-cooked state (I like mine rare!), I assume that the risk of suffering from food-borne illness from beef is minimal or non-existent.

Why? What is it that cows have got that resists disease or infestation that other animals seem to lack?
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  #2  
Old 04-07-2004, 09:30 PM
TellMeI'mNotCrazy TellMeI'mNotCrazy is offline
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When I asked my OB/GYN whether I could eat medium rare steak while I was pregnant she said that it was probably fairly safe. The reason she gave was that the disease tends to be born on the surface of the steaks - the part that gets cooked, no matter what. With ground beef, what was the surface is mixed throughout, thereby increasing the chances of contaminated meat not getting cooked to a high enough temperature.

Therefore, according to her, steak was much safer to eat rare/medium-rare than ground beef.
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Old 04-07-2004, 09:31 PM
TellMeI'mNotCrazy TellMeI'mNotCrazy is offline
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I just realized that in my sleepy stupor, I misunderstood the point of your question. Sorry
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Old 04-07-2004, 10:16 PM
Rick Rick is offline
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Part of the answer is that different animals are susceptible to different bugs. Trichina worms don’t eat beef for instance. (Yea!)
Another part of the answer is different animals are processed with different methods. Chickens are gutted and then run through a water bath to rinse out the insides. A report I saw on 60 minutes many years ago referred to this water bath as “fecal soup” (yeah, I know, Band Name) Needless to say, after hearing how my soon to be prepared chicken has been dunked into fecal soup. You better damn well believe that I am going to cook that sucker to done.

One thing that is also interesting to note is that with the advent of accurate digital kitchen thermometers the recommended temps for cooking some meats are starting to come down, at least in what some experts say.
Pork used to always be recommended that it be cooked to 180F (shoe leather) Now many recipes are now saying 150-160F. Trichina worms are killed at 137F. Just for giggles once I cooked a pork tenderloin to 140F. It was what a beef eater would consider rare. While it was 140 inside, it still looked raw. That one went back on the grill for another 10 degrees.
Chicken also used to be a universal recommendation of 180F. Now many recipes suggest pulling the bird at 160F at the thickest part of the breast.
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Old 04-08-2004, 12:18 AM
Smeghead Smeghead is online now
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Exactly. There are no common disease-causing organisms that live inside intact muscle tissue of cows. So as long as it's (A) not ground up, so the surface bacteria get all over everything and (B) cooked on the outside, you should be good to go.
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Old 04-08-2004, 12:20 AM
Standup Karmic Standup Karmic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smeghead
There are no common disease-causing organisms that live inside intact muscle tissue of cows.
Is there an identifiable reason for this, or is it just happenstance?
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Old 04-08-2004, 10:03 AM
fezpp fezpp is offline
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Two words. Steak Tartare
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Old 04-08-2004, 10:08 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Standup Karmic
It is well known that meat such as chicken and pork should be thoroughly cooked before consumption. Failure to do so can result in contracting a variety of food borne illnesses. From chicken one can get samonella, from pork, trichinosis.
Coincidentally I was at the butcher's this very evening and I was reading a poster about cooking pork just how you like it. If you like rare beef have rare pork kind of thing. They had quotes from a food scientist that it has always been a myth that pork needs to be well-done, Australian hygiene standards have always been so high that you can cook it just like beef or lamb.
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Old 04-08-2004, 10:18 AM
UrbanChic UrbanChic is offline
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I thought trichinosis had all but been eliminated from U.S. inspected pork products and was no longer the threat it had once been.

I'm not saying you can now have your porkchops cooked rare but I thought you no longer had to cook a wonderful pork tenderloin so much so that you might consider eating the sole of your shoe as a better alternative.
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Old 04-08-2004, 11:06 AM
KP KP is offline
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Quote:
When I asked my OB/GYN whether I could eat medium rare steak while I was pregnant she said that it was probably fairly safe.
While I don't want to overstate the risks, I would be very uncomfortable giving that advice. While most bacterial food poisonings are indeed limited to the surface of steaks and other solid meats, salmonella (for one) has been known to cause problems in pregnant women, even on steaks that are cooked well on the outside.

More worrying (albeit a bit less common) is toxoplasmosis, a fairly common parasitic infection that may have no symptoms or cause a mild self-limited illness in adults, but can cross the placenta and seriously harm or damage the infant.

Since the late 70s until recently, pregnant women have been urged not to eat rare meat or clean cat litter boxes (the commonest exposure). Though some are urging that these warning be weakened or downplayed (I've gotten publicity release from humane societs and meat industry organizations, which I found rather insultingly ill informed; most such releases are more balanced) the Toxoplasmosis warning remain on the official guidelines of several major specialty organizations (e.g. the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Academy of Family Practitioners, etc.). Toxoplasmosis can also be contracted, less commonly, from unwashed fruit and vegetables, some cured meats (e.g. the curing of Parma ham doesn't kill toxo) and even in soil (e.g. from a neighbor's cat or contamnation from racoons raiding the trash)

Some feel that previous exposure to toxoplasmosis (there's a blood test for residual antibodies) is sufficient protection for your unborn child, so cat-owners, gardeners in affected soil, rare-meat eaters, etc. have usually had the disease (and fought it off). While it's true that second (documented) infections with toxo are fairly rare, I feel the same argument would have applied back in the 70s, when toxoplasmosis was a significant unheralded risk. As much as I love rare meat, I'd say that the fact that toxo is known to cause fetal problems means toxo is known to cause fetal problems. Period. The risk is documented, so why risk it.

The figure I see most often is 3000 US cases/yr of congenital cases (i.e. infected fetuses that survive to birth). Congenital toxoplasmosis can have severe sequelae, including mental retardation, blindness, and epilepsy in infancy or much later in life. That's a greater number of affected fetuses/children than the risk of not using carseats, yet we've made car seats a legal requirement, and you can actually have your kids taken away if you regularly don't use them.

It should be noted that many doctors (and common wisdom) recommended rare meat for pregnant women up to the 70s (to assure adequate iron, and other nutrients). This suggests that our mothers may have had more exposure than pregnant women today, especially since toxo was not monitored, and meat handling was a bit laxer. It also suggests that it's easy to overlook the rather uncommon toxo cases, unless you're looking for them.

My advice? Don't panic, but if you are concerned enough to ask the question, then definitely cook your steaks a bit longer until delivery day.

"Congenital Toxoplasmosis" (American Family Physician May 15, 2003)
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Old 04-08-2004, 11:14 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuanitaTech
I thought trichinosis had all but been eliminated from U.S. inspected pork products and was no longer the threat it had once been.

I'm not saying you can now have your porkchops cooked rare but I thought you no longer had to cook a wonderful pork tenderloin so much so that you might consider eating the sole of your shoe as a better alternative.
Properly cooked pork (in my opinion, at any rate) should have a smidgen of red on the inside. It should be moist and flavorfull.

I can't see myself wanting to eat pork cooked rare (though I have had a bit of freshly ground raw pork after a pig kill). Rare beef has a nice flavor. It's the essence of beef -- I don't know why people would eat it well done, but to each their own. Pork, however, is not quite so tasty rare. Same with duck. I don't get the whole rare duck phenomenon, either.
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