Why is Cooking Meat Necessary?

Quck answer

Cooking meat is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to kill harmful bacteria and parasites that may be present in raw meat, making it safer to consume. Secondly, cooking meat helps to improve its taste and texture, making it more enjoyable to eat. The heat from cooking breaks down the proteins in meat, making it more tender and flavorful. Additionally, cooking meat can also enhance its nutritional value by making certain nutrients more easily absorbed by the body. Overall, cooking meat is necessary for both safety and culinary reasons, ensuring that we can enjoy delicious and healthy meals.

It’s late at night on a Saturday and you’re flipping through the TV channels, searching for something interesting to watch. Suddenly, you come across a lion’s face on the screen. As you continue watching, the camera zooms out and you realize that the lion is watching a gazelle.

You have stumbled upon a nature channel documentary about African predators. Since you are a fan of big cats, you decide to keep watching and see what happens. You suspect that the gazelle’s fate won’t be a pleasant one, and you are correct.

When the gazelle comes within range, the lion pounces. There is a brief struggle, but it quickly comes to an end. The lion emerges victorious. Dinner for the night has been secured.

Predators like big cats and bears eat other animals without cooking them first. So why do humans cook meat when other carnivores simply eat it raw?

If you have ever tried sushi or steak tartare, then you know that humans can consume raw meat. However, these dishes are specially prepared exceptions to the general rule that meat must be cooked for safe consumption by humans.

Meats such as beef, pork, and chicken can harbor harmful bacteria and parasites. If consumed raw, these microorganisms can make you seriously ill. Cooking meat properly ensures that any harmful organisms are killed during the cooking process, making the meat safe to eat.

So, how do animals eat raw meat? Some animals possess stomach acids that can eliminate bacteria and parasites. Others may become ill from consuming raw meat, but they have no other choice. They need to eat, and they lack the ability to cook their food.

It is also important to consider that predators immediately consume their fallen prey. Up until that point, the prey’s immune system worked to keep it healthy. However, the meat that humans consume goes through processing in factories and is not consumed immediately. This means that raw meat has the potential to be exposed to various germs before we purchase it from grocery stores.

Scientists are uncertain about the exact time and reason why humans started cooking meat. Some speculate that humans evolved to cook meat because it allowed them to obtain calories and nutrients more easily.

While raw meat may contain more calories and nutrients than cooked meat, human jaw muscles and digestive organs have to exert more effort to chew and digest raw meat. The cooking process helps to break down tough proteins, making it easier for humans to eat and digest. Some scientists believe that consuming cooked meat was a significant step in the evolution of the complex human brain.

If you are wondering about the cooking times for meat, it varies depending on the type. Ground meats like beef and sausage generally need to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160º F (71.1º C). Poultry such as chicken and turkey usually needs to be cooked to at least 165º F (73.8º C). Fresh beef and pork in the form of steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked to at least 145º F (62.7º C).

Give it a Try

Are you ready to grill something delicious? Find a friend or family member to help you explore these tasty activities:

  • Have you ever tried raw meat? If you have ever tasted sushi, then it is highly likely that you have consumed raw meat without being aware of it! Are you interested in sushi? Or would you prefer pizza? If the idea of sushi sounds intriguing to you, ask an adult friend or family member to take you to a local sushi restaurant to give it a go!
  • Are you a fan of roast beef? Ask an adult friend or family member to assist you in making a Classic Pot Roast at home using a slow cooker. To ensure that your roast is cooked thoroughly, utilize a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature before consuming it.
  • The stove is not the only place where you can cook meats. How about constructing a campfire in the backyard? With some hot dogs and roasting sticks, you can create your very own Campfire Hot Dog Spiders. Enjoy yourself!

Sources of Wonder

  • http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=1027
  • http://www.geek.com/news/geek-answers-why-can-animals-eat-raw-meat-but-we-cant-1593883/
  • http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-10/eating-cooked-food-made-us-human-study-finds
  • https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/homehygiene/Pages/Foodhygiene.aspx

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