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Can I Get Parasites or Tapeworms from Eating Rare Steak?

By Dave / December 5, 2006

USDA-Select-StateThe short answer is yes, you can be infected by a tapeworm from eating an under cooked steak. This type of infection from the tapeworm known as Taenia Saginata is possible.

tapeworm

Furthermore, you only need one of these to find its way into your body. It doesn’t need a mate, it can produce millions of eggs all by itself. You can see the detached segments in the above picture. Those segments are loaded with eggs.

tapeworm-headWith this type of infection, you may have bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and possibly vomiting. The really gross part is that the worm can grow to 4 or 5 meters in length in 3 to 4 months and segments off it will show up in your stool.

In addition, these segments are self-mobile and can crawl out of your body on their own. If you see anything that resembles a squiggly or moving white worm in your stool, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.

The good news, if there is any at all, is that it is just a little better than the tapeworm that comes from eating under cooked or raw pork. That type  can get complicated as it can infect a person’s brain, causing serious problems.

It’s easy for an animal to become infected by the parasitic tapeworm as the cattle eat from the ground all day long.

tapeworm-scolex cattle

Once it enters the animal’s body, it does not infect them the same way it infects humans. Instead, it finds its way inside the animal’s muscle and forms a cyst. The unsuspecting human that eats the under cooked or raw meat is then ripe for an infection. intestines

These tapeworms infect humans whereby they grow in the intestines as described above. The variety from beef doesn’t produce a lot of symptoms so you may experience what was mentioned above, but the tapeworm may not kill you. Instead you will probably lose a lot of weight and pass those segments all the time through your stool.

marbled-raw-steakIn addition to the parasitic tape worm, you can also get bacterial infections from raw or under cooked steak or beef. This is especially true of ground beef. You have probably heard of E-Coli bacterial breakouts from meat. This type of infection can cause serious damage to your intestines.

preparing-steakIf you have any doubts about preparing your meat, such as how long it should be cooked or at what temperature, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1 (800) 535-4555 or 1-888-674-6854 (1-888-MPHotline) and ask them. You can also write to them at mphotline.fsis@usda.gov

Beef, and veal may be cooked to 145 °F. Ground beef needs 160 degrees. Now don’t make the mistake of only turning your oven to 145 degrees, that would be very wrong.

What is meant by 145 or 160 degrees is the internal temperature of the meat. And the ONLY way to know if your meat reached that temperature is to use an internal thermometer. That is the kind that you stick into the meat to read its temperature on the inside.

internal-thermometer

Your oven should reach at least 325 degrees. As cautious as I am, I would probably turn it up higher (and I do).

If you are cooking with a microwave, use this guide.

If you are grilling steaks (at 3/4 inch thickness) cook them a minimum of 4-5 minutes on each side and use an internal thermometer to make sure the steak reached at least 145 degrees F at the center. I would go to 160 to be safe, but that is just me.

steakongrill

To recap: I would avoid eating bloody rare steak. government guidelines refer to the 145 degree minimum as ‘medium rare’. So it is a pretty safe bet that what you mean by ‘bloody rare’ could very well be dangerous.

There are no benefits that I’m aware of to eating a bloody rare steak over a medium rare or well done steak.

If this didn’t completely answer your question, ask again or leave your next question in the comment section below. Either way, I can answer any follow up questions you have.

steak-dinner2

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Dave