What Happens If You Eat Bacon Raw?

As a bacon lover, I understand the temptation to sneak a piece of raw bacon straight from the package. There’s just something irresistible about that salty, meaty flavor. But is eating raw bacon actually dangerous, or is it no big deal?

I decided to dig into the science and potential health risks of consuming raw bacon Here’s a comprehensive look at what can happen if you eat bacon before cooking it

Can You Get Sick from Raw Bacon?

Eating raw bacon does come with the risk of foodborne illness. Raw pork can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins that are neutralized during proper cooking.

According to the CDC, consuming raw or undercooked pork may expose you to:

  • Salmonella – Causes diarrhea, fever, vomiting

  • Trichinella – Causes muscle soreness. fever diarrhea

  • Toxoplasma gondii – Flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, eye issues

  • Listeria monocytogenes – Fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea

So while the curing process makes raw bacon less risky than other raw meats, it doesn’t completely eliminate the danger. Any time you eat undercooked pork, you’re playing with fire in terms of food safety.

What Are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning from Bacon?

If you do contract a foodborne illness from raw bacon, symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping and diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches

Symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 weeks after ingesting contaminated bacon, depending on the specific pathogen.

In otherwise healthy people, symptoms typically resolve within a few unpleasant days. But severe cases can be dangerous for those with compromised immune systems.

Food poisoning is no joke, so it’s wise to cook your bacon properly every time.

Does the Curing Process Kill Bacteria in Bacon?

You may wonder whether the curing and smoking process that bacon undergoes kills potentially dangerous bacteria, making raw bacon safer.

It’s true that curing does help eliminate some microbes. The salt, nitrates, nitrites and sometimes sugar in cure mixes make it difficult for most bacteria to thrive on raw bacon.

However, some hardy pathogens like Salmonella can still survive the process. And fresh meat used for bacon may contain other contaminants to begin with.

So while the curing provides some protection, it doesn’t make raw bacon 100% safe or sterile. Thorough cooking is still required to kill any lingering pathogens.

Can You Get Worms or Parasites from Bacon?

Two of the main health concerns with raw pork are trichinosis and tapeworms. So a common question is whether you can get worms or parasites from eating raw or undercooked bacon.

The short answer is yes, there is a small risk.

Trichinosis is caused by the Trichinella roundworm. Tapeworm infection is caused by the Taenia solium parasite. Both can be transmitted by eating infected raw or undercooked pork.

These days, trichinosis is rare due to modern pork farming practices. But tapeworm infection still occurs, with symptoms like abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea, diarrhea, and vitamin deficiencies.

Thorough cooking destroys any worm larvae or parasites. So while not common, they provide yet another reason to avoid raw bacon.

Can Bacon Give You Food Poisoning When Cooked?

Properly cooking bacon to a safe internal temperature kills any dangerous pathogens present in the raw meat. So fully cooked bacon generally won’t make you sick.

However, bacon can still cause food poisoning if:

  • It’s undercooked – Appears crispy but didn’t reach 145°F internally.

  • It’s contaminated after cooking – Touching cooked bacon then contaminating other foods.

  • It’s poorly handled – Allowing juices to drip onto other surfaces, utensils etc.

  • It sits out too long – Bacteria can regrow if not refrigerated promptly after cooking.

Practice food safety by cooking bacon thoroughly, avoiding cross-contamination, and refrigerating leftovers quickly.

Can You Get Cancer or Heart Disease from Bacon?

While undercooked bacon poses food poisoning risks, consuming too much bacon and other processed red meats also raises your risk for cancer and heart disease when eaten regularly.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, frequent processed meat consumption can increase your chances of colorectal cancer by 21%. The nitrates used to cure bacon are thought to have carcinogenic effects.

Eating processed meats like bacon has also been linked to a higher incidence of heart disease. The saturated fat, sodium, nitrites and cholesterol can negatively impact heart health over time.

For optimal health, the World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting processed meat to just 3 small servings per week. Moderation is key.

Is Some Raw Bacon OK?

After reading about all these potential risks, you may be wondering if just a small bite of raw bacon is fine. Perhaps just nibbling the fatty end or eating a small strip won’t make you sick.

Technically, there’s no guaranteed “safe” amount of raw bacon you can eat without risk. Any bite could contain pathogens if present. It’s like playing food poisoning roulette.

On the other hand, millions of people have probably sampled raw bacon at some point without incident. Just don’t make a habit of it.

My advice? Don’t willingly eat raw bacon. Cook it until crispy every time for peace of mind. But if you did grab a quick taste, chances are you’ll be just fine.

How to Cook Bacon Safely

Now that you know the importance of fully cooking bacon, here are some tips for cooking it safely:

  • Always cook raw bacon to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F.

  • Fry or bake until crispy and deeply browned. Soft, limp bacon may still be undercooked.

  • Drain bacon grease and juices, which can harbor bacteria.

  • Use a meat thermometer to verify doneness. Insert at thickest point.

  • Avoid cross-contaminating other foods with drippings, utensils, cutting boards etc used for raw bacon.

Take these precautions and you can enjoy bacon free of worries!

The Bottom Line

While the odds of getting sick are low, eating raw bacon does come with some health risks you don’t want to chance. Cook bacon completely every time to kill any potential bacteria, parasites or viruses. Limit processed meats for optimal wellness.

With proper handling and preparation, bacon is perfectly safe and delicious. So appreciate it fully cooked, not underdone!

What If You Eat BACON Every Day For 30 Days?


What happens if you accidentally eat raw bacon?

Eating raw bacon can increase your risk of foodborne illnesses, such as toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms. Therefore, it’s unsafe to eat raw bacon.

How long after eating undercooked bacon will I get sick?

How soon after infection will symptoms appear? Abdominal symptoms can occur 1–2 days after infection. Further symptoms usually start 2–8 weeks after eating contaminated meat. Symptoms may range from very mild to severe and relate to the number of infectious worms consumed in meat.

What happens if you eat bacon that is not fully cooked?

Unfortunately for floppy lardon lovers, most health officials agree that it’s not safe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consuming undercooked pork products can expose people to a wide variety of pathogens, including foodborne bacteria like salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus.

Why can you eat ham raw but not bacon?

Ham isn’t raw. its either pre cooked, or its cured. bacon is lightly cured, but they only take it as far as they need to to give it its accustomed flavor profile.

What happens if you eat bacon raw?

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 ( 3 ). However, eating bacon raw can still increase your risk of food poisoning ( 4, 5 ). Common foodborne illnesses linked to undercooked or raw pork include ( 6 ):

Can one eat bacon with diverticulosis?

You can eat bacon with diverticulosis, but it is not the most recommended. In a person with diverticulosis, it is recommended to consume foods with soluble fiber such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.

What happens if you cook bacon too much?

If you use too much heat and burn the meat, it will form harmful compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, which are associated with cancer. Making sure that you handle and cook bacon properly are the best ways to reduce your risk of food poisoning.

Is Bacon bad for You?

Additionally, nitrites and nitrates, which are added to processed meats like bacon to prevent spoilage and preserve color and flavor, can form nitrosamines in your body. These harmful compounds are carcinogenic. Since salt is used in the curing process, bacon has a relatively high salt content.

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