Some individuals are claiming that eating blue or really rare steak is safe. We will look into this to see if there is anything that shows that it is safe to consume meat like this. We are going to cover mainly the red meats here for this article.
Blue steaks are steaks that are barely seared, to provide the consumer that likes their steaks this way with a better texture of the meat on the inside. The meat within the blue or rare steak is still near cold, which can be felt on the outside surface of the meat and also the inside.
Most chefs generally accept that medium-rare is perfect for a steak, but blue steaks are the rarest of the rare. The individuals that like their steaks this way are basically doing it for texture (tenderness) more than anything else.
The reason why blue steaks are cooked this way, is because it is believed by some that there is no risk to eating blue steaks once the outside of the meat has reached the desired temperature. The outside is cooked on both sides for around one minute to attempt to kill all of the bacteria in the meat.
Some individuals consider the blue steak to be safe to eat after this point, claiming that only the outer portion of the meat can have the foodborne illness; therefore it is safe to eat after the outer layer of the meat is cooked, even if the inside is raw. However, there is no real evidence to back up this claim.
It has been found that many individuals claiming that blue steaks are safe to eat, were basically repeating the same information from credible sources. The information included this:
During the butchering process, E. coli sometimes gets onto the surface of the meat. Whole cuts of meat such as steaks or roasts usually only have E. coli on the surface, which makes the E. coli easier to kill by cooking.
When the meat is ground or mechanically tenderized, E. coli on the surface can be transferred to the inside of the meat. This is why ground meat and mechanically tenderized meat are more likely to cause illness than whole cuts of meat. E. coli can be killed if the meat is cooked thoroughly.HealthLinkBC
However, the information provided does not state that blue steak or any steak is free from foodborne illnesses once the outer portion of the meat is cooked to appropriate temperatures. The information states that steaks or roast usually only have the foodborne illness on its surface only. This information has been used and misinterpreted by some on the internet to say that blue steak or rare steak is safe to eat.
Despite, this misinformation being spread to people that are unaware of the consequences and risks of eating blue or rare steak, the USDA plainly says this on whether or not blue or rare steaks are safe to eat:
Is rare steaks safe to eat?
No. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends not eating or tasting raw or undercooked meat. Meat may contain harmful bacteria. Thorough cooking is important to kill any bacteria and viruses that may be present in the food. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least 3 minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.USDA
There is no real way to cook the meat like this (as a blue steak) and test it for safe eating, because it is only heated on the outside, not the inside. So, this means that there isnt a practical way to tell someone that it is safe to eat rare or blue steaks. Only an assumption can be made on whether it is safe. Checking the internal temperature of cooked steaks is the only reliable method.
Blue steaks and rare steaks fall below the safe temperature for consumption. The internal temperature of blue steaks is said to be 115 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit internally. This is 25 to 30 degrees below the recommended requirements.
It isn’t just bacteria, as stated by the USDA, that an individual should be concerned about, but also viruses. Viruses can be spread to food, which can be present in food too. These viruses can make contact with meat after it is butchered. This can be done through infected individuals working around the meat. It can happen through further slicing and trimming in stores and restaurants.
A lack of cooking meats to the correct temperatures can cause an individual to become infected.
Virus cannot multiply in food, but can usually be inactivated by adequate heating. Other methods of inactivating viruses within a food are relatively unreliable, but viruses in water and on exposed surfaces can be inactivated with ultraviolet light or with strong oxidizing agents.pubmed
Also, recalls do happen on meats that do contain E. coli. or other bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses. Some of these foods do reach consumers before they can be recalled. Even though the general public doesn’t know about some of these outbreaks when they do occur, they do happen occasionally. This is another reason why it could be dangerous to eat rare or blue steaks, as they can still contain harmful germs that can shut down the body when consumed.
A blue steak by some individual’s interpretation isn’t raw meat. However, many renowned chefs would classify the meat as undercooked and raw, saying, “It’s blue!” when criticizing its quality. To them, blue and raw are the same thing. As stated by the USDA, it is not safe to eat raw or undercooked meat. Individuals eating blue steak can’t be guaranteed to get sick from it, but neither can they guaranteed that they won’t either.