Whether you should eat pancetta raw or not has since become a popular debate.
The state of pancetta may come off as unclear to most people for a variety of reasons.
A common rationale people often give for eating this meat raw is that they “found it in a deli case with other ready-to-eat meats” or that “there are no clear instructions on the packaging as to whether they are ready-to-eat or raw”.
In this post, allow us to delve deeper into this debate and show you if it is safe for you to eat pancetta raw or not.
Can you eat pancetta raw?
Yes and no. But let’s explain the yes first.
It is safe to eat pancetta raw, only when it is cured, hygienic, and served to healthy people.
Technically for pancetta to even be regarded as pancetta in the first place, it should be properly cured. What this means is that it had previously been preserved by salting.
Also, if you’re confident that the pancetta has been properly handled during its voyage to you, sure, go for it.
The chances that some of the natural bacteria that are on the surface of the pancetta can cause issues for people who are already ill are quite high, so “raw” pancetta should be served to healthy individuals only.
When can’t you eat pancetta?
If pancetta hasn’t been cured, it should not be eaten. Uncured pancetta isn’t even considered pancetta at all, it is merely pork belly.
If you have reservations about the hygiene situation of the pancetta, you may want to cook it first before diving into it, better safe than sorry.
What happens if you eat pancetta raw?
It all depends on the individual.
Eating raw pancetta may cause stomach cramps in some whereas nothing in others, but ultimately, as long as the pancetta in question has been properly cured, you have little to worry about.
The problem stems when the pancetta is not cured, was handled in unhygienic conditions, or is served to someone who is ill.
- When the pancetta is not cured, it is very unsafe to eat the pancetta raw because curing helps get rid of the bacteria on the surface of the meat.
- At this point, it is raw pork belly and not pancetta. Basically, this is raw meat that poses the risk of trichinosis or tapeworms for whoever is eating it. I don’t think the taste of uncooked pork belly is appealing so why go down that route?
- If you’re aware that the pancetta has not been nearly handled, eating it raw might not be an A+ idea because it leaves you at risk of food poisoning.
- Alternatively, uncooked pancetta is ideal for people with illnesses because the process of digesting the meat may be tedious for them and cause further problems.
Can you get sick from eating raw pancetta?
Yes, you can get sick from eating raw pancetta.
You can get sick from eating most foods raw and pancetta is not an exception.
For raw pancetta, depending on your body system, you can develop food poisoning or an allergic reaction if you are allergic to any of the ingredients used to cure the raw pancetta.
Common symptoms of food poisoning include: stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, weakness, chills, dehydration, dizziness, fever, appetite loss, sweating or malaise, bloating, stomach indigestion, and gagging.
It is also not recommended for pregnant women to eat pancetta raw because it puts them at risk of developing listeriosis.
Listeriosis is caused by the listeriosis monocytogenes bacteria. This infection shows up after the individual has eaten contaminated food. Listeriosis commonly affects the ill, newborns, pregnant women, and older adults.
For pregnant women, symptoms associated with this infection may not be physically apparent in the mother but will rather be passed on to the newborn. Hence, the newborn may experience the following symptoms in the days and weeks after birth:
- Lost of interest in feeding
In some cases, listeriosis may ultimately result in miscarriage or premature birth.
Can you eat uncured pancetta raw?
No, you can’t eat uncured pancetta raw.
As a matter of fact, uncured pancetta is not pancetta at all, it is just pork belly.
Let’s talk about why you shouldn’t eat raw pork belly.
Why shouldn’t you eat raw pork belly?
Eating raw or undercooked pork meat is not a great idea. It exposes you to parasites that it harbors, which include tapeworms or roundworms.
These parasites can cause food-borne illnesses such as trichinosis or taeniasis.
This is a food-borne illness that is caused by eating undercooked or raw meats, specifically pork meats infested with trichinella worm.
Common symptoms of trichinosis are fever, chills, abdominal cramps, and headaches.
This is caused by eating meat that has tapeworm eggs.
Most mild cases do not show symptoms but severe cases, on the other hand, do.
Common symptoms of severe cases of this foodborne illness include:
- Weight loss
- Stomach upset
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Visible tapeworm segments may be passed through feces.
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I write about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. I also talk about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things