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Name: Krysti
Status: Student
Age: 16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2002

How long do you need to boil meat before it is safe to meat? How much bacteria is safe to eat on meat?

The rule is that meat should be heated through and through to be safe for consumption. Thus, even the inside should be heated and should not be raw. How long this is depends on the type and size of the meat.

How many bacteria are safe to eat depends on what kind of bacteria. Those that can not cause disease, and fortunately most bacteria are what we call 'not pathogenic', we can eat by the millions without doing harm. Those that cause disease need to enter our body in sufficient amounts to make us ill. That can vary from as few as 5-50 organisms (that is really a tiny amount) to thousands to 100-thousands, as for Salmonella. That seems a lot, but bacteria can grow so fast that they reach these numbers easily on food. Since bacteria grow slower at lower temperatures, the fridge slows down this bacterial growth, but does not completely stop it. Our meat remains fresh longer, but not unlimited.

In conclusion, we only get sick when we eat sufficient numbers of the wrong kind of bacteria (pathogens). On top of that, our health condition and immune system further influence if, and how bad, we will be ill.

Eating dead bacteria is usually not harmful, even if these bacteria were pathogenic by life. That is why cooking meat containing pathogenic bacteria results in safe food. There is one exception: bacteria that produce toxins. Those toxins will not be inactivated by heating. That is why you cannot make spoiled food safe to eat by heating it.

Trudy Wassenaar

It is not how much bacteria is on the meat-it is what kind. There are certain bacteria, esp. E coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. Only a few bacteria can make you sick. To prevent illness the meat must be cooked to 160 degrees F.


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