Can You Eat Rare Lamb? Nutritional and Safety Information

Can You Eat Rare Lamb?

Lamb is a type of red meat derived from young sheep. Red meat refers to the meat of mammals that often has a higher concentration of iron than chicken and fish. Lamb refers to the meat of sheep that are still in their first year, while mutton is the term used for an adult sheep’s meat. The majority of people consume lamb unprocessed, but in some parts of the world, favor falls on it being smoked or cured.

It is abundant in high-quality protein, several minerals and vitamins, making it an excellent part of a healthy diet. A 100-gram portion of roasted lamb contains 57% water, 16.5 grams of fat, and 25.5 grams of protein.

As far as the safety of eating rare lamb, it depends on the type and preparation of the meat. For example, lamb chops with the outside seared well should be safe as the bacteria on the outside dies from the heat. However, minced and diced lamb should not be consumed pink.

In this case, it needs proper cooking and browning. The same applies to burger meat. Mincing meat to produce burgers spreads harmful bacteria from the surface throughout the meat. Thus, undercooked burgers have the potential to contain harmful bacteria on the inner parts that may lead to food poisoning when improperly cooked.

Potential Risks Associated With Eating Undercooked or Raw Lamb

The Food Source Information website states that from 1998 to 2018, a minimum of 24 lamb-related outbreaks were recorded by the CDC’s National Outbreak Reporting System. During this outbreak, more than 340 illnesses and 50 hospitalizations occurred. Fortunately, nobody lost their life.

Pathogens implied in this outbreak were Salmonella enterica and Shiga-toxin-emitting Escherichia coli. They both caused 40% of the illnesses each, with other minor toxins responsible for the remaining 20%.

Below you will find examples of other outbreaks associated with lamb.

  • Minced lamb kebabs bought from two restaurants caused illness in 52 people, with six hospitalizations and zero deaths. This happened in South Wales, and Salmonella enterica was the culprit. Here, the minced lamb may have been served undercooked. 1995 is when this incident took place.
  • 2005 saw 37 sickened individuals from consuming lamb’s liver. Reports show that there were instances where the lamb was consumed both raw and cooked. Two different butchers sold the meat, but investigations revealed that they both had the same meat supplier.
  • Eight people fell sick in 2006 after consuming lamb kibbe. Five of the eight purchased raw meat from the same market in Ohio. A version of the kibbe dish is served raw and may have caused the sickness.
  • In Northern England, in 2015, contaminated raw lamb burgers, among other foods, led to 10 hospitalizations, with seven people developing HUS (Hemolytic uremic syndrome). HUS comes from Escherichia coli. Cross-contamination from contaminated beef was the cause.

Common Preparation Techniques To Ensure Safety

People cannot completely avoid eating lamb, thus learning how to prepare the meat properly is essential to continue enjoying this delicious meat. The first and obvious tip is to keep the preparation area clean and cutlery properly sanitized. Below are the most important steps in ensuring your meat is safe to consume from purchase to table.

  • Raw meat storage. After purchase from the butcher or store, proper storage is especially important. Even when transporting the meat home, ensure to place it in a sterile container with proper sealing. When refrigerating it, ensure to put it at the bottom so that leaking blood and juices do not easily infect the food above. In the event of freezing, ensure to do it immediately and place it in a dry and clean vessel.
  • Kitchen items preparation. A clean kitchen is a vital step towards avoiding food poisoning. Countertops, cabinets, and pots or pans used to cook the meat should be absolutely clean to aid in fighting germs. Contrary to popular belief, washing the meat is not recommended as there might be bacteria in or around the sink. If not so, bacteria may spread from the meat to other kitchen surfaces and cutlery.
  • Meat preparation. When you take out the raw meat, ensure to use clean cutting boards and utensils that are exclusively used for meat to avoid the spread of bacteria to other foods you cook. Also, frequent washing of the hands is vital to prevent infections. When washing, ensure to use warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds post raw meat handling.

Nutritional Information Regarding Lamb

Lamb is a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins. It is high in B vitamins, iron, and zinc. As lamb meat is very low in fat compared to other meats, it has no carbohydrates, making it lean and good for the heart. A typical serving of three ounces attributes for more than 40% of an adult male’s daily protein allowance and only 7% of caloric intake. This makes it perfect for dieting and gym-goers in the cutting phase. Lamb is a staple in Mediterranean dishes, that regularly show evidence of reducing cardiovascular disease risk. The Food Source Information website states that a study done in 2013 reported that grass-fed lamb contains 14% less fat and 8% more protein than its grass-fed counterparts, thus further enhancing the health benefits of the meat. According to Healthline, the major nutrients and their significance include:

  • Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of blood and supports proper brain function. Lack of B12 leads to anemia and damage to the neurological system.
  • Lamb contains a type of iron known as heme iron that is highly bioavailable than iron counterparts derived from plants.
  • Better known as vitamin B3, it serves several significant operations in the human body. Heart disease results from a deficiency in this nutrient.
  • Several types of meat contain decent amounts of selenium, which has numerous significant functions in the body. Some of the benefits of selenium include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory roles, as well as enabling the production of active thyroid hormone.
  • Zinc derived from meats absorbs better than the plant-derived variety. Zinc supports insulin and testosterone production.

Food Safety Tips When Consuming Rare Lamb

To make sure your rare lamb is safe for consumption, a few crucial tips should ring true. These include:

  • Only buy or consume meat from a trusted source. As stated above, most of the outbreaks came from suppliers with poor hygiene. What happens is the meat is poorly stored, and cross-contamination from other contaminated meat occurs. Other foods near the infected meat are also vulnerable to contamination and sicken unsuspecting consumers.
  • Know how the food gets prepared. Lovers of rare meat must be very particular about how their meat gets cooked. When eating steak, ensure the chef or cook properly sears the outside to kill off all contaminants. In the case of burgers and minced meat, it must be cooked well all over. As stated above, when meat is minced, bacteria from the outside spreads all over, necessitating proper cooking of the meat.
  • When you can, cook the meat yourself. When eating out, you can only control so much. Often times you cannot go to the back and see exactly how the meat is stored or prepared. Cooking the meat yourself gives you control over most of the process to protect yourself and your family.

In closing

Lamb is a very good nutrient source, but when mishandled causes food-related illnesses. Food poisoning has the potential to cause hospitalization and even death in extreme cases. Maintaining control over how your meat is prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself. This also applies to most meats and foods you consume.