Leo’s ‘Revenant’ Diet: Is Eating All That Raw Meat Safe?
If you’ve seen The Revenant, in which Leonardo DiCaprio resorts to some insane tactics to survive being all alone and injured in the wilderness, you probably took notice of how much raw meat the guy consumes on his way to safety (including raw bison liver, which DiCaprio’s lawyer and agents had to sign off on).
If you should decide to kill an animal and eat it raw right then and there, you’re probably not going to have a very good day. While meat is sterile, it can easily get contaminated during the butchering process, and viruses and parasites can be transmitted in this way (The liver can be especially disease-ridden, so while Leo may not have gotten sick from eating it, that doesn’t mean you won’t either).
But if you’re planning on dishes prepared with raw meat at a restaurant, like sushi or tartare, then that’s a completely different situation than eating a bear you just killed. Because when it comes to raw meat, it depends on the type of animal, as well as the way in which it’s treated after it’s been slaughtered. The reason high-end steakhouses can get away with serving raw beef without getting anybody sick is because the beef itself is pristine and not home to any pathogens or viruses. You can’t be so sure about that when the beef has been wrapped in plastic wrap and has been sitting on a supermarket shelf for days. Same with raw fish; at sushi restaurants the quality of the fish is what’s called “sushi-grade,” meaning it can be eaten raw if properly handled.
For the most part, all red meat can be eaten raw if it’s handled the right way after it’s been slaughtered. It needs to be kept cold, finely chopped (like tartare) or thinly-sliced (like carpaccio) in order to avoid an off-putting texture, but as long as it’s fresh and clean (and made from whole muscle, not many different animals) it probably won’t make you sick. As for poultry and pork, the odds of it making you sick if not cooked are much higher. This is especially true of poultry, which the USDA advises should never be eaten if not cooked to at least 165 degrees F.