Is It Safe To Eat Raw Lamb Meat? Risks & Safety Tips

It is not safe to eat raw lamb. Eating raw lamb has been associated with many long-term illnesses, which include Salmonella typhimurium, stroke, and prostate cancer.

The US Department of Agriculture emphasizes further that all meat be cooked to a safe degree before eating it. Some reports have it that eating undercooked or raw meat causes illnesses that range up to a million cases per annum.

In this article, I will talk about lamb meat, the risk involved in eating it raw or medium rare, and tips on how to cook lamb to perfection.

What is lamb meat?

Lamb meat is the meat from a domestic sheep, typically around a year of age. It is a popular staple in the United States, Europe, and the Middle Eastern region.

The most common cuts of lamb include the rack of lamb, shoulder, shank, loin, and leg. Some of the best ways to prepare these cuts include grilling, roasting, and braising.

Nutritional information on lamb meat

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 4 ounce (100 grams) serving of lamb contains;

  • Protein: 25.6g
  • Calories: 258
  • Fat: 16.5g
  • Water: 57%
  • Sodium: 72mg
  • Potassium: 310mg

It also contains saturated fat, iron, calcium, niacin, selenium, cobalamin, vitamin B6, and magnesium.

Is it safe to eat the lamb raw?

No, it is not. Although eating raw meat is wild spread, it doesn’t make it safe because there are certain health risks it poses.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, all lamb should be cooked to at least 145°F and no less. That means a medium rare or higher level of doneness.

But if the lamb is ground or minced, then the recommended is 165°F and no less. This is because the grinding process enables bacteria to spread throughout the entire meat and requires more cooking time before they die.

What happens if you eat raw or undercooked lamb?

Eating raw or undercooked meat is unhealthy. It can expose you to any of the following:

1. Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is a type of salmonella infection that affects people who eat undercooked lamb meat. This infection manifests with symptoms such as fever, watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

Furthermore, salmonellosis can also affect the joints, bones, and blood cells in the body.

2. Listeriosis

Listeriosis, also known as listeria monocytogenes, is a bacterium infection gotten from undercooked lamb and poultry meat. Symptoms usually appear 24 hours after intake or exposure.

The symptoms of listeriosis infection include; fever, body pain, watery diarrhea, and nausea, pregnant women and infants are especially prone to this infection.

3. E. Coil (Escherichia coli)

Escherichia coli is a strain of bacteria in the intestine of animals. Although the majority of this strain of infection is nonpathogenic, some strains are lethal and can cause severe food poisoning.

Eating raw or undercooked lamb exposes you to this bacterium infection. It can lead to a health condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which may further become lethal and lead to kidney failure.

4. Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis is another bacteria found in the digestive tract of animals. It occurs when you eat meat that is not properly cooked, and its symptoms occur 48 hours after ingestion.

This particular infection spreads to the blood, joints, and other key parts of the body, and ultimately attacks and weakens your immune system.

Tips for handling raw lamb

Aside from getting infected from eating undercooked or raw lamb, you may also be exposed to cross-contamination.

Below are some tips for handling raw meat in other to reduce the chances of contacting these harmful bacteria infections:

1. Store meat in the refrigerator

If you don’t plan on cooking the meat immediately, it would be best to store it in the refrigerator.

Never leave your raw lamb sitting in the kitchen at room temperature. Exposed meat will encourage bacterial growth.

Ensure you store it in the bottom section of the fridge instead of the top. Storing at the top may cause cross-contamination as the juice from the meat may spill onto other food.

2. Maintain proper hygiene

After handling raw lamb, always remember to wash your hands with soap under running water. Also, make sure you clean every surface and utensil the meat must have come in contact with.

3. Always ensure you cook the meat to a safe cooking temperature

The US Department of Agriculture recommends that all lamb be cooked to at least 145°F. At this temperature, all harmful bacteria in the meat would have been eradicated.

Can you eat medium rare lamb?

Yes, you can. Lamb that has been cooked to rare or medium doneness (145°F) is safe. Although, it is best to err on the side of caution and go for a well-doneness level of 165°F.

However, the CDC recommends that the following people should abstain from eating rare or medium-rare lamb:

  • Pregnant women
  • Nursing mothers
  • Elderly or aged citizens
  • People with a low or weak immune system.


Can you eat lamb meat that is pink on the inside?

As long as the meat is cooked to an ideal temperature, you can eat lamb meat that is still pink on the inside.

Can you thaw frozen lamb on the shelf?

No, you can’t. The juice may spill on other surfaces, it would be best to defrost in the refrigerator before you start cooking.

What should you do if you suspect you have food poisoning?

The first thing to do if you suspect you have food poisoning is to replace lost fluids by drinking lots of liquid. Avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks, and fatty & spicy foods.

Also, take enough rest and eat bland, easy-to-digest food such as bread, rice, toast, and crackers. Usually, the symptoms will disappear after five days. But if they persist or seem severe, see the doctor immediately.

Can you eat raw lamb that has been minced?

No, you can’t. Grinding spreads bacteria all over the meat, so it is best to go for well-done minced lamb.


Eating raw lamb meat is not safe because it may expose you to many health conditions. If you don’t like lamb meat too cooked, go for medium rare or medium.

You should also follow the tips for handling raw lamb mentioned in this article to avoid contamination.

Thank you for reading this article.

Check Millenora for more informational articles on different kinds of meat.