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Can You Eat Raw Bacon, or Does It Have to Be Cooked?

Taste of Home 1/27/2023 Carrie Madormo, RN
© MSPhotographic/Getty Images

If you ask me, nothing beats a few strips of crispy bacon on a lazy weekend morning. It's perfect on its own, but adds oomph to scrambled eggs or a pan of roasted veggies. Outside of meals, you also can't go wrong when adding it to a well-garnished Bloody Mary. (Especially if you use one of the bacon brands we swear by.)

But does it have to be crispy? Can you eat raw bacon? Let's break down the safety risks.

Is Most Bacon Raw or Precooked?

The bacon you find in the grocery store is usually raw. This is the stuff you'll find in the refrigerated meat case. However, the shelf-stable bacon located in your supermarket's pantry section is precooked.

Bacon is made from salt-cured pork belly that has been cut into thin strips. It's cured with salt and other additives to keep it from spoiling. The salt helps to prevent certain types of bacteria from growing. Most bacon contains nitrites which help to fight botulism.

Can You Eat Raw Bacon?

No, it's not safe to eat raw bacon. Even though bacon has been preserved through the curing process, it has not been cooked. Like other foods you should never eat raw, consuming raw or undercooked meat puts you at risk of foodborne illness from viruses, bacteria or parasites.

Raw pork may contain the following types of bacteria, which are all killed when cooked:

  • Salmonella
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Toxoplasmosis gondii
  • Campylobacter
  • Yersinia enterocolitica
  • Listeria monocytogenes

Eating undercooked or raw pork products can also lead to serious illness from parasites, including:

  • Tapeworms: These parasitic worms live in the intestine and cause abdominal pain, weight loss and blockages in the intestines.
  • Toxoplasmosis: This parasite is usually harmless but can be dangerous to those with compromised immune systems.
  • Trichinosis: This disease is caused by parasitic roundworms and causes diarrhea, vomiting and weakness.

Cooking bacon kills these parasites.

Can You Eat Turkey Bacon Raw?

No, it's not safe to eat turkey bacon raw. Turkey bacon is made from thin strips of turkey that have been seasoned and cured. Like pork bacon, consuming raw turkey bacon puts you at risk of foodborne illness.

These are the other types of bacon you should know, and—spoiler!—they all need to be cooked.

How Do You Safely Prepare Bacon?

The best ways to lower your risk of food poisoning are to safely handle and cook your bacon, whether that's using the stovetop, oven or microwave. When preparing bacon, always wash your hands before and after.

Pork products need to be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F. It's hard to measure the temperature of bacon because the strips are so thin. As long as your bacon strips are crispy, they should be fully cooked.

The post Can You Eat Raw Bacon, or Does It Have to Be Cooked? appeared first on Taste of Home.

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