Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple for many Australians, but have you ever wondered if it’s safe to eat raw?
While bacon may spoil less easily than other raw meats due to its additives, such as salt and nitrites, eating it uncooked can still pose a risk to your health.
In this article, we’ll explore the dangers of consuming raw bacon and provide some tips on how to tell if your bacon has gone bad.
So, before you take a bite of that tempting slice of uncooked bacon, read on to learn more about the potential risks involved.
Can You Eat Raw Bacon Australia?
The short answer is no, it’s not safe to eat raw bacon in Australia. Eating uncooked bacon can expose you to bacteria and parasites, which can cause bacterial infections or parasitic infections like trichinellosis.
Bacon spoils less easily than other raw meats due to its additives, such as salt and nitrites. While salt prevents the growth of certain bacteria, nitrites fight against botulism. However, these additives do not make raw bacon safe to eat.
Cooking bacon to 145 degrees Fahrenheit normally kills bacteria and parasites. Since it’s hard to check the temperature of a thin meat such as bacon, cooking it crisp ensures that it’s been heated enough.
The Dangers Of Eating Raw Bacon
Eating raw bacon can increase your risk of foodborne illnesses, such as toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms. Raw bacon may contain harmful bacteria, including listeria and salmonella, which can cause fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and serious illness or death in the newborn baby. Salmonellosis is a foodborne illness that can cause fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. It can also lead to dehydration. Illness caused by either listeria or salmonella can be severe or even fatal.
Raw bacon may also contain parasites like tapeworms, which live in the intestines and can cause abdominal pain, weight loss, and intestinal blockages. Toxoplasmosis is another parasitic infection caused by a parasite that is usually harmless but can be dangerous to those with compromised immune systems. Trichinosis is a disease caused by parasitic roundworms and causes diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and eye swelling.
It’s important to note that cooking bacon kills these parasites and reduces the risk of food poisoning. Pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to food poisoning from raw bacon. To avoid these dangers, be sure to cook bacon thoroughly until it is crisp. If you are unsure if your bacon is cooked enough, err on the side of caution and cook it a bit longer. Better safe than sorry!
Why Bacon Is Not Safe To Eat Raw
There are a few reasons why bacon is not safe to eat raw. First, raw bacon may contain harmful bacteria, including listeria and salmonella. These bacteria can cause foodborne illness and lead to severe symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. In pregnant women, listeria can even cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and serious illness or death in the newborn baby.
Second, uncooked bacon may also contain parasites that can cause trichinellosis, also called trichinosis. This parasitic infection can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, as well as muscle pain and weakness.
While cured bacon is safe to eat after cooking, it is important to note that the salt and nitrites in bacon only make it less perishable than other forms of raw meat. Raw bacon still needs to be cooked properly to kill any harmful bacteria or parasites that may be present.
Therefore, it is not recommended to eat raw bacon in Australia or anywhere else. To ensure food safety, always cook bacon thoroughly before consuming it.
How Raw Bacon Can Cause Illnesses
Consuming raw or undercooked bacon can increase your risk of food poisoning and other illnesses. Raw bacon may contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Listeria monocytogenes. These bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
In addition to harmful bacteria, raw bacon may also contain parasites such as tapeworms, Toxoplasmosis gondii, and Trichinella. These parasites can cause serious illnesses like abdominal pain, weight loss, blockages in the intestines, diarrhea, weakness, and even death in extreme cases.
Trichinellosis or trichinosis is a parasitic infection caused by eating raw or undercooked meats, particularly pork products infested with the larvae of a type of roundworm called Trichinella. This disease can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and eye swelling. Anyone can get trichinosis, regardless of age or health status.
It’s essential to take precautions when handling and cooking raw meat like bacon to avoid getting sick from harmful bacteria or parasites. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat and poultry and cook the meat properly to kill any bacteria or parasites. Avoid eating raw or undercooked bacon, and make sure to reheat it until it’s steaming hot all the way through.
Signs That Your Bacon Has Gone Bad
It’s important to be able to recognize the signs that your bacon has gone bad to avoid any potential health risks. Here are some things to look out for:
1. Discoloration: Fresh bacon should have a pinkish-red color with white fat marbling. If your bacon has turned green, gray, or brown, it’s a clear indication that bacteria and/or fungi have colonized your bacon. This means it’s time to throw it out.
2. Unpleasant Smell: Fresh bacon should have a natural meaty smell. If your bacon smells sour, fishy, rotting, or just really unpleasant, it’s a sign that bacteria growth and rancidity have made the bacon go bad.
3. Mouldy Flecks: Cooked meat can get mouldy if left too long in the fridge. If you see small fuzzy white or blue spots on your bacon, it’s definitely not safe for consumption.
4. Sticky Texture: If your raw bacon is still soft and just a bit moist, it’s safe to eat. However, if you’re dealing with slimy bacon, that’s a sign of lactic acid bacteria, which can make meat slimy and indicate that it’s spoiled.
5. Grey Color: Old meat turns from pink to grey, and if your bacon has darkened, it’s already past its expiry date. Always toss bacon into the bin as soon as you’re sure that it’s spoiled because it might contaminate other items in your refrigerator.
Eating spoiled bacon can cause food poisoning, which can lead to hospitalization. It’s important to always check your bacon carefully before eating or cooking it to ensure that it’s still fresh and safe to consume.
Safe Ways To Cook Bacon For Consumption
When it comes to cooking bacon, there are several safe ways to ensure that it’s ready for consumption. One popular method is to cook bacon in the oven. To do this, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the bacon on the parchment paper, making sure that the slices don’t overlap. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you want your bacon to be.
Another safe way to cook bacon is to use the broiler. This method is quick and easy, and it produces evenly crisp bacon without the grease splatter that comes with pan frying. To use this method, preheat your broiler and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place the bacon on the parchment paper or foil, making sure that the slices don’t overlap. Broil for a few minutes per side until crisp.
Microwaving bacon is also an option, but it’s important to do it correctly. Place 3-4 slices of bacon on a microwave-safe plate lined with a paper towel (be careful not to overcrowd the plate). Cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on your microwave, until just cooked through; allow it to rest for 1 minute before using it for sandwiches or crumbled over a salad.
When cooking bacon, it’s important to cook it until crispy (but not burned) to allow most of the fat to melt off. Drain it on a paper towel or brown paper bag to remove even more fat before eating. The more fat that is absorbed by the paper towels or paper, the less saturated fat you will consume, which is helpful when it comes to your heart.
Tips For Storing Bacon To Prevent Spoilage
Proper storage is crucial to maximize the shelf life and quality of your bacon, whether raw or cooked. Here are some tips to help prevent spoilage:
1. Refrigerate or freeze bacon directly after use: Uncooked and unopened bacon can be stored as is, but wrapping the package with tin foil when freezing can prevent freezer burn. Opened uncooked bacon should be wrapped in tin foil or stored in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
2. Separate cooked bacon into small portions and wrap with paper towels before freezing: This will help prevent the bacon from becoming soggy and keep it fresh for a couple of extra days.
3. Use refrigeration to store leftover bacon: Even if bacon is cured or naturally-cured, it can still spoil if left too long at room temperature. When stored at or below 40°F, the growth of harmful bacteria is slowed, which helps prevent your bacon from going bad. Before refrigerating, allow the bacon to cool to room temperature to limit condensation after sealing.
4. Store packaged sliced bacon properly: Keep unopened vacuum-sealed packages in the refrigerator up to a week past the expiration date. Once opened, tightly wrap in foil or a zip-top bag and use within one week. Sealed packages of bacon can be frozen up to one month before the fat begins to go rancid.
5. Label and date frozen portions: Separate a package of bacon into 4-piece serving sizes for freezing. Be sure they are tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil, and labeled with the date. These frozen single portions will keep several weeks in the freezer.
6. Use paper towels to absorb excess grease and moisture: To store cooked bacon for the next day, place it on a paper towel-lined plate and cover with foil or plastic wrap. The paper towel will absorb any excess grease and moisture, helping to keep the bacon crispier.
By following these tips, you can help maximize the shelf life of your bacon and prevent spoilage, ensuring that you can safely enjoy this delicious meat for longer periods of time.