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Members of an intelligent alien species who have a generally current day Earth level of technology, essentially only eat raw meat freshly extracted from recently killed lifestock (and by "recently" I mean killed only moments before consumption) to sustain themselves. Animals are bred outside of cities and transported, still alive to consumer centers where they are held and eventually purchased by consumers.


Now assuming this species has a digestive and immune system that is generally similar to that of a large Earth predator (say a lion for example) and that their livestock can be compared to cows/deers/chickens, will this society be able to have this diet without cases of parasitical infection and food poisoning cropping up frequently?

How safe would eating fresh raw meat be for them? What practices could the food industry put in place to ensure that the meat they produce is safe?

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  • $\begingroup$ In their natural environment the aliens would evolve to resist parasites, bacteria, virus and other sources of disease (fungal). The question is how much of an ALIEN environment would they be susceptible to... think of diseases with no immunity and resistance such as the common cold that killed so many native americans. $\endgroup$ – Phil M Aug 12 '17 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ For a moment I thought this question was from Cooking SE... $\endgroup$ – Dragomok Aug 12 '17 at 11:06
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    $\begingroup$ Many of our issues with raw meats come from the handling and processing. If we ate raw meats from a freshly killed well tended animal, the risk of issues is very low. Even in our world of heavily processed foods, people eat sashimi, steak tartare, and other raw animal products without issue. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Aug 12 '17 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure you will be able to get populations to grow large enough to support a technological civilization on meat alone. Cities are a product of agriculture. $\endgroup$ – Spencer Aug 12 '17 at 22:51
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If they have evolved to eat fresh, raw meat, then the answer is fairly obvious: their digestive systems have evolved to cope with the potential threats of microorganisms and parasites. While not 100% effective (microorganisms and parasites are continually evolving to cope with defensive mechanisms in their potential hosts), you can be assured that the basic creature "in the wild" is tough enough to deal with most threats and can probably survive with some level of parasite loading.

Now since you have them reaching a level of civilization, it may be safe to assume that the "farmers" amongst them have incentive to raise their livestock to be free of parasites and bacteria, and whatever government institutions they have may also be involved in what we would consider food inspection. Indeed, their analogues to religion may also protect them, it is thought that Jewish people stopped eating pork because of the dangers of raw and undercooked pork to the population, a prohibition enforced by the priesthood.

So your beings are living in cities, and going to the local supermarket/feedlot to select their meals, which are then taken home and consumed (or maybe taken to the park for a picnic lunch). In the civilized parts of your world, the food is safe and clean, but the inhabitants can probably get by if some contamination slips by, since they were evolved to eat this diet.

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We do eat uncooked meat, fish and eggs. And we do drink fresh milk. At least, some of us do, some of the time.

They will have a regulatory framework and veterinary service just like we do to ensure that the animals they eat are healthy. Many people like their steaks rare, or even raw as steak tartare. Eggs (or parts of eggs) are commonly eaten with no thermal processing -- for example, in mayonnaise. Raw fish, or in general fish with no thermal processing, is commonly consumed, for example as sushi. In many parts of the world fresh milk is widely available.

So their problems are not that much different from ours. In their world regulation and veterinary inspections will be more strict because of their fetish of slaughtering the animals immediately before eating them; however, that's not really realistic -- they still need to skin and dress the animal, cut it into presentable pieces and so on; or are they barbarians with no table manners?

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  • $\begingroup$ Call them barbarians all you like, eating a nicely cut, cooked steak smothered in ketchup and presented on a plate is what would seem abhorrently barbaric to them. +1 $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Aug 11 '17 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ Commercial mayonnaise is made with pasteurized eggs. Fish used for sushi in the US must, by FDA regulation, be frozen before use to kill parasites. So both of these things are "thermally processed", even though they're not cooked. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Aug 12 '17 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby: Mayonnaise is quite often made in house (maybe not in the USA, I don't know). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 12 '17 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Sure, but it's much more often made in factory and bought in a jar. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Aug 12 '17 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ EU regulations also require fish for sushi to be frozen. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Aug 12 '17 at 0:36
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Look at animals on Earth. Most do not eat cooked meat. They survive pretty well from it. We even have carrion eaters that eat their meals well... ...tenderized.

Many of the predators and carrion eaters on Earth have fairly high body temperatures. Essentially, bacteria is cooked in the digestive tract.

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One infection risk for us eating raw meat involves raw meat that has been sitting around a while such that bacteria can reproduce to numbers capable of causing illness. The meat of live animals has no bacteria in it and so meat from a properly and very recently butchered animal would be fine.

The issue would be multicellular parasites with a 2-host life cycle. For humans, pigs are the animal with the issues. Pigs carry trichinosis and pork tapeworm both of which can infect humans via consumption of raw or undercooked pork. Both types of parasites still exist in North America.

Parasites are species specific and so these parasites might or might not be able to infect the aliens, or infection might be very different from how it is in the normal hosts.

Cows and chickens for whatever reason do not host parasites (that I know of) which can affect humans.

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    $\begingroup$ Animals DO have bacteria, its just that most are not necessarily harmful. Once potential deadly bacteria is salmonella and is very common in chickens and other birds (which is why we don't eat it raw). $\endgroup$ – Phil M Aug 12 '17 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Phil M, yer killing me. Live meat does not have bacteria it it unless the animal is septic. Salmonella is in poop. Poop gets in meat when animals are improperly butchered. All that is up there! $\endgroup$ – Willk Aug 12 '17 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ Although scientists have known for many years that animals serve as a host for bacteria, which live especially in the gut/intestines, in the mouth, and on the skin, recent research has uncovered just how numerous these microbes are. Studies have shown that humans have about 10 times more bacterial cells in our bodies than we have human cells. (However, the total bacteria weigh less than half a pound because bacterial cells are much smaller than human cells.) Read more at: phys.org/news/… $\endgroup$ – Phil M Aug 14 '17 at 20:22
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Same of our society.

The immune system adapts to destroy every alien life form. The parasites adapt to overcome immune system adaptations. While cooking destroys [almost] all bacteria and most parasites, many parasites are immune to high temperatures (such as trichina). The only practical way to protect them is to inspect the flesh of slaughtered animals by vets.

If the flesh is correctly inspected, it is safe to eat raw. Both for us human, as for your hypothetical aliens.

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  • $\begingroup$ In what sense are trichina "immune to high temperatures"? The whole reason we don't eat pork rare is that it can be infected with trichina, which is killed by fully cooking the meat. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Aug 12 '17 at 0:27

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