Meat safety
June 1, 2011 6:49 PM   Subscribe

I have been eating meat again for the first time in five years and could use some clarification about issues from omnivores of metafilter as I have been really anxious and paranoid about several issues relating to meat consumption. Thanks.

For background, I was a vegetarian who decided to eat meat again so that I could eat locally and solve some health issues that have come up.

I buy 90% of the meat I eat from a pasture farm close to me and purchase the rest from the organic/wild caught meats section at the health food store. I cook almost all of my own food.

I am very paranoid about food poisoning/ecoli/parasites. I use a meat thermometer on everything I cook

1) I am very paranoid that when I cut or prepare something that somehow little tiny specks of raw meat juice will splatter somehow and I won't see it, I'll come into contact with it later*, and poison myself. How reasonable or not is this fear?

*for example, I'm preparing raw meat and get juices on my hands. I pick up a bottle of soap to wash my hands and the juice from my hands transfers to the outside of the bottle of soap. later I touch the bottle of soap without washing my hands for some reason.

2) Is there any truth to the idea that if I choose to eat pork I am more likely to become infected with parasites? I would only be purchasing pork from the local farm, never from the store. I have read from multiple sources that pork just has a lot more parasites than any other kind of meat and is just a lot more dangerous no matter what. If that is the case, I would like to avoid pork.

3) how you are supposed to clean off a meat thermometer between uses on the same piece of meat if you test it multiple times? Have a solution of bleach water nearby for soaking it in and then rinse? Or just rinse it off in the sink between testing times?

4)If you could describe the meat safety culture in your household and how that works I would appreciate that. How you handle/store/thaw/freeze/cook/prepare your meat and meat products.

5) Any other information you think would be helpful!

Thank you so much for any response you can give!
posted by skjønn to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm also relatively nervous about food safety and meat and also use a meat thermometer for most meat cooking. I only rinse it off under water after using it while I'm cooking (I'll scrub it off with soap after I'm done with the meal). I figure my meat ought to be hot enough it'd kill anything that might still be lurking after a rinse.

As for pork v. other meats: keep a chart of which meats must be cooked to what temperature handy. You should be fine as long as you're cooking everything to specifications.

The most annoying thing about meat is how quickly it spoils, so if I'm not going to use it within a day or two, I freeze it. I recommend cutting it into smaller portions (where appropriate) beforehand, as it'll make it easier to thaw later.

For handwashing, maybe just get a pump for the soap so you don't have to worry about picking up the bottle after you've washed your hands?

More food safety guidelines (including podcasts. Wow.)
posted by asperity at 7:09 PM on June 1, 2011

1) Not at all. Cross-contamination is an issue, but it sounds like you're doing plenty to prevent it. Don't use the same knives or cutting boards, and wash your hands.

2) Parasites, maybe, but chicken is probably worse overall. I would guess that responsibly raised pork is just fine as long as you cook it to 140 (new FDA recommended temp). Pink pork is safe. Trichinosis is the worst pork parasite and it's pretty easy to prevent.

3) Supposed to? No idea. I sometimes wipe it down with a damp paper towel, and sometimes with a soapy damp paper towel. YMMV. Soaking tends to be bad for them.

4) If you have time for a slow thaw of frozen meat, just put it in the fridge. For a quick thaw, put the sealed ziploc/vac bag in a pool of circulating water. (I stopper the sink most of the way, fill it up, then turn the water down so the level stays constant.) Doesn't eve have to be warm. Goes really quickly. For freezing, a vacuum sealer is best, but regular freezer bags are fine if you don't mind a little frost. Frozen meat lasts a long time either way.

5) Highly recommend a smoker. Pork shoulder never had it so good. This one you can just plug in and (almost) forget about.

Bonus: Don't buy ground beef, especially supermarket. Grind your own.
posted by supercres at 7:14 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

1. I think you are overstating the risk. In your example, if your hands had noticable amounts of meat juice on them, you might want to rinse the soap bottle under some water if you got meat-juicy handprints on it.
2. I don't know how common this is these days - my impression is that this used to be the case but hasn't been for a long time. (I was told that pigs and people are fairly similar, biologically, which is one reason why we share a bunch of the same parasites, rather than pigs just being more parasite-laden.) I think as long as it's cooked sufficiently, you should be fine.
3. just rinse it off and wipe it. it's a non-porous object you're sticking into mostly-water-soluble juices.
4. i don't mix dishes/utensils used on raw meat with dishes/utensils used on cooked meat. so, any forks/knives/plates/etc used to cut up meat go into the sink. utensils used *during* cooking don't get cycled out during the process, though. i use a meat thermometer and just wipe it down after i pull it out while i'm cooking -- i'll clean it with soap after i'm done.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:15 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

The reputation pork has for parasites comes from trichinellosis. It used to be common, but is now extremely rare; something like a dozen cases per year in the US. If your pork is cooked through it's as safe as any other kind of meat.

I deal with the problem of "splatter" by pretending it doesn't exist. I believe that as long as you're taking care of general cleanliness, tiny bits of meat juice aren't going to be much of a vector for disease.

Here in BC there's a program called FoodSafe that teaches people who want to work in restaurants how to be safe around food. Maybe it would be a good idea to take a similar course wherever you are to get a good idea of what's dangerous and what isn't.
posted by auto-correct at 7:15 PM on June 1, 2011

I cook meat for my family and myself frequently. Based on my own experience, I would say that your fears are unfounded. I tend to be most careful with poultry, but even then I don't use a meat thermometer unless I'm cooking a turkey. For pork and poultry (e.g., a chicken breast or pork chop), I just cook it for the appropriate amount of time and then cut it open to check visually if the inside is cooked all the way through. You can look online at sites like this to decide how long to cook your meat.
Personally, I would advise against bleaching your cookware in between uses. You don't want bleach flavored meat and I can't imagine it would be good for you. Just use a good all purpose cleaner or bleach on the counters, etc. after cooking and let the dishwasher or a soapy scrub in the sink clean your cookware.

As far as safety goes, I, Ms. Quizicalcoatl, and the Quizicalcoatlets have never had food poisoning as a result of this. So 1) cook meat for the appropriate amount of time, 2) just cut it open to visually check that it's done, 3) use a good cleaner for your sink and counters, 4) don't worry about anything beyond that.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 7:17 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

1) But keep in mind that meat juice is mostly not actually infectious and has a short half-life exposed on an impermeable surface like your soap bottle. If you're really worried, look up the standards required for restaurants, which are pretty lax already, and then ask someone with industry experience how closely they're obeyed (answer: not).

2) Pork can give you a particular disease called trichinosis, which is why it must always be cooked until well done. Fully cooked pork is not otherwise any more dangerous.

3) I just don't, and it hasn't killed me yet. (But there's a sample size problem here: I also don't often use a meat thermometer, because most of my meat is stir-fried.)

4) I have a plate of raw chicken that's been sitting exposed on the shelf of my refrigerator for the last four days. I'm going to make sure I cook it in the next day, and wash the plate with soap.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:19 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

1) Pretty unreasonable. Sounds like you're keeping things pretty clean, you probably are fine. People way less fastidious than you have managed to avoid food poisoning. And while food poisoning FEELS like the end of the world, it actually is not.

2) Cook to recommended temperature and you'll be fine. (Incidentally, wild-caught and game meats are somewhat more likely to have infections/parasites/etc. Again, cook to the recommended temperature and you'll be fine.)

3) Get one that you can leave in the meat.

4) Pick up near the end of my grocery trip (like in the store; go to the meat counter last or second-last), bring it in the house first when unloading the car, keep at proper temperature in fridge, put in freezer if not using soon. I usually thaw in the fridge but will do a water bath or the microwave if speed is an issue. I usually give my sink a pretty good wipedown after dealing with raw meat or poultry; I often end up doing some of the prep in the sink, or over the sink (I have cutting boards and some roasting pans that balance neatly there) and I just toss all meat-touching utensils in that side of the sink, so after I get everything else cleaned up, I give the sink a good wipedown.

5) USDA meat preparation fact sheets. Plus more links on the right for other food safety info (including poultry)

In my state, the biggest food poisoning outbreak two years ago was listeriosis (sp?) from a soft cheese. Other major food poisoning outbreaks in the last few years have come from spinach, tomatoes, etc. Meat is not necessarily more likely to give you food poisoning than anything else.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:20 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty relaxed about cooked food (I eat things that have sat out for a while or fallen on the floor) but still pretty cautious about raw meat.

I try to be careful about what I touch with meat-juice-y hands, using other parts of my hands to turn on the sink and get soap if I can, but I don't worry about it afterwards. I thaw meat in the refrigerator or microwave, not out on the counter, and I use a separate cutting board and knife for raw meat and wash with very hot water before reusing. I'm more cautious with raw chicken than other meats; apparently the pork guidelines were just loosened up - that's mostly about salmonella, don't know about parasites. I don't usually use a meat thermometer.

No food poisoning yet, that I've noticed! And most food poisoning is unpleasant but not going to put a healthy person in the hospital.
posted by songs about trains at 7:22 PM on June 1, 2011

(This link was supposed to go along with "grind your own [ground beef]". Yay Burger Lab! Yay Kenji!)
posted by supercres at 7:22 PM on June 1, 2011

Meat safety guidelines are somewhat overblown in relation to beef and pork. Remember that many people eat beef (and pork) all but raw. Only chicken and other poultry trip my paranoia meter.

I do respect that you want your meat "well done" (even though many carnivores will tell you that meet thermometer done is ruining a steak), so: don't worry about "splatter." Unless you literally splash the stuff around, there is too little to do you harm.

For washing your hands (this bugs me, too), get a pump dispenser for soap and use your forearm to pump soap into one hand. I like to use my forearm to turn the water on/off.

Pork is my favorite meat, and I have never had a problem with it. Keep in mind that many pork cuts must be cooked for a long time, and the ones that aren't (pork chops) are pretty easy to visually inspect.

Just rinse the thermometer; it's metal, hot water will wash off most of the relevant "juice," and if you're at the temp to be testing the meat it's probably already mostly cooked through anyway. (Food is 99% safe at a much lower temperature than the USDA guidelines; they're going for something like 99.999% safe.)

We freeze some meat, and thaw it under cold running water. Other than that, we almost always eat it immediately after purchase.

Enjoy your meat. Eating is supposed to be fun. Don't let overblown fears take that away from you. Remember that, most of the time, even undercooked meat will result in "digestive disturbance" at worst.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:23 PM on June 1, 2011

I'm lazy/don't care and practice very little food safety. My diet varies from supermarket meat to grass fed beef.The only thing that has caused me problems is chicken.

I'm more careful about it after two episodes of food poisoning, so make sure your chicken is cooked/stored right or you'll feel like hell for a week.
posted by thylacine at 7:24 PM on June 1, 2011

How many meat eaters do you know? How many of them have ended up with parasites or food poisoning, and how often? (If you don't know about incidences of these things, then consider that they were probably pretty non-serious - i.e. if your friends ended up out of action for days, or in hospital, you would have heard). That is how low the risks are. And I assume that most of your friends are less cautious than you are.

I am pretty careful about meat (though less than you are), but my husband is terrible. He will leave cooked chicken or stew sitting overnight, even in summer, without refrigerating. He will chop salad on the same chopping board he chopped raw meat on, without more than a cursory rinse in cold water (if that). He will eat expired food without question. (I do not eat the foods he prepares in these ways). He has never had food poisoning. Nor have I. Nor has anyone we know.

I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I think you would have to be lax about food safety pretty frequently - not just once in a while - AND be unlucky. And even then it's highly unlikely to kill you.

Restaurants etc have to be careful because they are serving hundreds of people a day. One slip up could affect a lot of people. And they have many more opportunities for slip-ups than you do.

Finally, I spent a month in a small semi-tropical country with no refrigeration. Protein was mainly fish and chicken. Meat sat around raw for a day or two before being cooked, and leftovers sat around at room temperature for as long again. Ants, other insects, chickens, pigs, and small grubby children's fingers touched food all the time, and people still ate it. I never saw anyone get sick, and nor did I.
posted by lollusc at 7:24 PM on June 1, 2011

1) Totally unreasonable.

Small specks of liquid will dry quickly. Any micro-organisms already in the liquid or fall into the liquid will not live long enough to reproduce in quantities that will cause you problems, before the small speck of liquid dries. Also, the quantities involved are not enough to cause illness.

Regarding micro-organisms, I suspect that produce (depending on where they are sources and the types of workers who service/harvest them) are more prone, have much more, harmful micro-organisms than lean meats prepared well and handled well.

2) Pork? These days? Naw. Wild boars/pigs, undercooked, perhaps. But commercial (even small farm) pork? No problem.

Anyway, cooking well (140'C - this leaves the inside still a little pink) is enough to kill parasites and parasite eggs.

3) Bleach water (10%, right?) is overkill. Even if there was "bad bugs" on the thermometer, you're sticking it back in the meat, right? The meat gets to the right temperature - the thermometer probe gets to the right temperature too.

4) Thawing frozen aliquotes - freezer to fridge in the morning. Thawed by the time I'm home.

Other) You're waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overthinking this. If you are immune compromised, this might be more of an issue. Otherwise - you're being really squeamish about meat.

Factory farming is not good, especially in the USA. Most Western nations outside of the USA have much better guidelines/practices and food poisoning from meat is a *trivial* issue. Buying meats from local farms is potentially more dangerous from a safety point of view.

If you have any issues, you should speak with the people who run the farm which you buy your meats from and ask them about their safety guidelines.

If you're not immune compromised, the safety of the meat that you purchase and consume is a negligible problem - and probably even a lesser problem than if you consume produce produced in California.
posted by porpoise at 7:30 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Clean utensils with hot soapy water. Wipe down counters, faucet handles, etc with bleach wipes.

Get a crock pot. After 8 hours of cooking, there is no doubt whether your meat is done or not. Super easy and stress free. Often I just open a pack of chicken and plop it into the slow cooker with the other ingredients - then all I have to wash is my hands.
posted by gnutron at 7:36 PM on June 1, 2011

I don't cook meat and since I grew up in a vegetarian family I don't know much about cooking meat. However, my husband cooks a lot of meat and he does not use a meat thermometer or stress out about a lot of the things you mention and has never given himself (or me) food poisoning.

That said, like you, I worry about the meat juices getting everywhere, so I registered for this automatic soap pump when we got married, and now he doesn't have to touch the soap bottle to wash his hands (he raises the thing for the faucet with his elbow or forearm). Highly recommend.
posted by echo0720 at 7:36 PM on June 1, 2011

A little paranoia in the kitchen is a good thing, but do keep some perspective: a large outbreak of illness from e. coli in 2006 in the U.S. was caused by contaminated organic spinach.
posted by rtha at 7:44 PM on June 1, 2011

Yes, your fear is excessive, I think. But re: (1), I turn on the water with my forearm and push the soap dispenser with my wrist. Re: (3), my vote is for just rinsing it. By definition, I think, the thermometer is getting up to temperature, so it's fine, and more important, anything transfered from it to the meat will get up to meat temperature.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:55 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

1) Like others, I wouldn't worry. In fact, I'm so lax I cut raw meat on a wooden cutting board. Deliciously permeable. I wipe it down with a soapy cloth soon after the meat is off of it. I have yet to have food poisoning.

2) Pork has always been the "scary" meat in the US, because of trichonosis. In reality, you should be more worried about poultry. (Protip: The FDA just lowered the "safe" temp of cooked pork from 160 F to 145 F. Us cooks have always known that and were waiting for the FDA to catch up.

3) Just rinse the thing off, even if you didn't, the small amount of "raw" juices transferred back into the meat would mostly cook right up to temp anyway.

4) If I'm not using meat the same day I buy it, it gets pulled out of the store package, put into a Ziplock bag with the purchase date on it, and stuck in the freezer. Meat defrosts in cold water usually but often is defrosted quickly in hot water. This is an FDA no-no, but I've never had a problem. However, meat in my kitchen is never defrosted just sitting on the counter. Even I'm not dumb enough for that. Chicken is always cooked up to temp, duck is served still pink. Pork is rarely eaten in my house, but it's served just under-done as well. Red meat is my favorite. I eat it so rare it's usually still mooing. So, those drops of meat-juice you worry about? That's the sauce on my baked potato. I wouldn't worry.

With the exception of room temp defrosting (NONONO,) and under-done chicken (it just doesn't taste any better that way, that's the reason I don't,) I am very lax in my meat-preparation. I'm just not the worried about it. I've never had a reason to. I've never had food poisoning and I've eaten some pretty terrible stuff.

Have a good time!
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:55 PM on June 1, 2011

Good for you for joining us omnivores again. Get in touch with your primal self!

As far as food safety goes, you're fine with what you're doing. You might be going above and beyond IMO. I am probably more careless than most in the kitchen (with 99% conventional meat, mostly beef) and eat rare burgers and steak frequently. I've never become ill due to a foodborne illness, or heard of anyone contracting one from home cooking, excluding news reports. It'd probably be a good idea to wash the soap bottle/faucet/etc, but the likelihood of getting a meat-borne illness is extremely low if you are not an elderly person or child, and source your meat carefully. It sounds like you're taking precautions and have nothing to worry about.

Cook your pork thoroughly, and you should kill any parasites. Try roasting a pork butt low and slow overnight for pulled pork sammies! You'll know for sure that it's done after cooking it like that and pulling it to shreds. ;)

Don't use a wooden cutting board, and clean your counter with a soapy sponge to eliminate meat juice. Bon appetit!
posted by sunnychef88 at 7:56 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't be afraid of meat. You're new to this aspect of cooking and you'll get more comfortable as you cook meat more often and continue to not get food poisoning. In the U.S., we've been trained to have this ewwww factor about raw meats because we no longer butcher our own and therefore never come in contact with raw meat or it's juices. These things are not inherently unhealthy and simple hygiene practices, soap and water, will solve any disease problems. Unless you are immune compromised, your body can handle A LOT more contact with raw meats and even bad bacteria than you give it credit for.

I want to give a little perspective by telling about my meat practices:

I live in Peru. I buy my meat from the local market where it sits out in the open air all day long (inside a building with no doors). Flies land on it and dogs are nearby. Other people probably touch the meat throughout the day as they pick out their own pieces. The lady cuts it with a knife she washes maybe twice a day and weighs it on a scale that gets washed at the end of the day. I buy chicken, beef and pork this way. I don't own a refrigerator so usually my meat sits around in my backpack or on my kitchen counter until dinner time. When I'm ready to cook, I rinse it with tapwater (which I don't drink due to giardia and other contamination.) Then I cook it thoroughly (sauteeing, boiling, roasting, whatever I feel like) and I never use a meat thermometer (practice recognizing when meat is cooked visually, it'll be easier for you.) Sometimes I keep leftovers from dinner in a tupperware on the countertop (no fridge) and then reheat them thoroughly for lunch or dinner the next day.

Horrific, right? I know. But I have never once had food poisoning while living here or eating like this. You can handle it.
posted by dahliachewswell at 8:08 PM on June 1, 2011 [10 favorites]

If you're using meat from good sources and the butchery methods are sound (which they'd have to be if they're certified organic), don't worry so much about food poisoning. Most of the horror stories you read come from meat processed at feedlots/slaughterhouses where there's tons of cross contamination and underpaid, under-trained employees.

Chicken is far more problematic, but again, I've never had a problem (we eat chicken several times a week, and always get a whole bird to butcher down to pieces, so I'm talking from a place of LOTS of experience here) because I source the meat from pasture, free-range, organic farms and make sure to wash everything carefully at the end.

I'm sure you know that washing/rinsing meat is now frowned upon due to the contamination that can spread during washing. Stay away from that. However, I do touch the soap with chicken-y hands occasionally. If you're anything like us though, there's always a film of soap on the outside of the bottle and doing a quick wipe down afterward is good enough.

Don't clean your thermometer in between testing on the same piece of meat.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:21 PM on June 1, 2011

You probably have the right sort of attitude—it's wise to be conscious of these sort of issues, and to take basic hygiene steps as you are doing (and then some!). However don't let it become an obsession. I had a friend who was so worried about the risk of getting sick they cooked everything until it was leather and even then half the time they interpreted any sort of general sickness as being a sure sign of food poisoning.

I'm amazed by stories like dahliachewswell's, as they seem to fly in the face of Science, but the human body can I suppose grow to adapt a wide range of challenges.
posted by oxford blue at 1:10 AM on June 2, 2011

I'm also in the more laid-back camp. (I only buy meat from animals raised on organic farms: no antibiotics, growth hormones or unnatural foods [see cause of BSE], so there's that). It's probably wise to be a bit overcautious now, as you've not eaten meat regularly for some time. Build up your tolerance and antibodies, and you can relax a bit.

The worst case of food poisoning I ever experienced - and I mean absolute nightmare lasting a full week, I'll spare you the literally gory details - was from a salad at a restaurant.
posted by likeso at 3:26 AM on June 2, 2011

Also, remember: even if you ingest some potentially-food-poisoning-causing bacteria, usually your immune system can deal with them handily.
posted by mskyle at 6:25 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

re: cutting boards

Wood is Good.

It's got lignin which has antimicrobial properties.

If you're worried, soak your cutting board occasionally in 10% bleach/water for 10 minutes, wash well in water, soak for another 10 minutes in water and rinse off.
posted by porpoise at 7:39 AM on June 2, 2011

1) Meat isn't deadly poison, and there shouldn't be spatter worth worrying about, except maybe if you're sloppy when rinsing it when it comes out of the packaging; just don't prepare the raw meat directly adjacent to ingredients of your meal that won't be cooked. In other words don't rinse meat in the sink while there is a strainer full of rinsed lettuce still sitting there. (A lot of this stuff is really just common sense.)

Use separate cutting boards or mats for meat and non-meat, and be sure to wipe everything down with a soapy sponge and hot water when you clean up. I tend to think anti-bacterial kitchen cleanser is overkill, but I know people who clean up their counters with it whenever they have prepared meat.)

If you don't want to risk getting meat residue from your hands on the soap dispenser, just push the dispenser down with your arm into your other hand and then wash your hands in hot water.

You can make yourself crazy with meat bacteria paranoia, honestly, so be aware of that too, because it might ruin the whole project of eating as an omnivore, which would be a shame if this is something you honestly want to do.

2) Pork shouldn't be any more dangerous than other meats, and less so than chicken. Really the distinction in terms of danger is between any meat that comes out of a huge commercial operation versus local (so long as you trust the local farmer is handling the meat responsibly).

3)Unless we're trying for a particular doneness in a cut of meat, we don't use meat thermometers much - with a little experience, you can usually tell if something is done. that said, just rinse a thermomenter in hot water or wipe it with the clean part of a kitchen towel that will not be used for drying vegetables and which you plan to launder.

4) Any new meat coming into the house gets rinsed in cold water when taken out of its packaging. We tend to poach most chicken before freezing for what it's worth. The meat packaging goes in its own separate garbage bag and taken out to the can (rather than going into the kitchen trash) more for the sake of potential smell problems, esp in warm months. Meat to be frozen goes in freezer bags. Meat gets cut up on its own plastic cutting pad, which goes in the dishwasher after use.

5) Like others, I tend to see more risk for food poisoning when eating out at dodgy restaurants that might leave ingredients sit unrefrigerated or cross-contaminate their salads. (I think I've gotten food poisoning twice, both at restaurants, once from grilled chicken and once from salad.)

I don't believe we've ever made ourselves sick at home from meat.

Assuming you don't have some particular sensitivity (my partner has to be especially careful with undercooked poultry that might have campylobacter, which she is unusually sensitive to and can send her to the hospital, even when the same dish doesn't affect me), really the rule is just not to leave stuff unrefrigerated, don't let it get too old in the fridge, clean up responsibly and consistently after meal prep, and keep raw meats, and knives or utensils that have touched them, well away from any portion of the meal that will not be cooked.

All that said, I do know a few people whose meat eating is largely confined to pre-prepared or pre-cooked meats (e.g. cold cuts) and eating meat at restaurants. That might or might not be absolutely safer (you have no control over the prep at a restaurant) but it eliminates the anxiety or neuroses connected to handling raw meat at home.
posted by aught at 8:27 AM on June 2, 2011

You buy 90% of your meat from a local farm. I bet they'd be willing to discuss their health protocols with you. Would it make you feel better to know that the animals are kept healthy, dewormed (so no parasites to pass on to you) and so on? They can probably tell you about it. They might even do regular tours; a lot of the local farms around here seem to.

You'd probably want to frame it such that they understand why you're asking. Some people think that anything besides food that's given to animals is "chemicals" and "contamination" and if you sound like that they may be less willing to discuss it with you. If you explain that you're a reforming vegetarian and would like to know more about how meat is safely prepared for people, they will probably be more open to discussing it.
posted by galadriel at 8:28 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I somewhat feel the same way you do, but it has to do with getting my hands dirty, period, and that some things like raw meat feel disgusting. Not exacly a "green" solution, but have you considered wearing cafeteria gloves? Like the kind they use at Subway?
posted by IndigoRain at 6:47 PM on June 2, 2011

It seems that the meat you get is prepared cleanly. If you get meat like that, you can literally live off of eating it raw (if you eat the organs!). Not that this is optimal, or safe for immuno-compromised individuals, but I've stopped fearing meat. I had a nice piece of raw Wagyu beef sushi the other day. It was great.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 9:51 PM on June 3, 2011

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