I was cooking my steak and near the end of searing it, the vent above the stove in my apartment broke. In fear of the apartment filling with a bit of smoke, I ran to the windows to open them and turn on some fans. In a little panic, I didn’t want my steak to burn while on the hot pan. I grabbed the steak and put it on the same cutting board the raw steak was seasoned on. The cutting board was already wiped down with paper towels but not washed, it was pretty dry.

I took a bite and then realized what I did. I then re-seared my steak to reassure myself, but I am not totally at ease. Am I okay?

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  • 3
    Eating raw meat will not automatically make you sick. When you eat raw meat, there is a (generally small) chance that the meat contains some pathogen which could, potentially, outrun your immune system and cause you to become sick, where "sick" could range from a minor case of the rumblies to hospitalization (or worse). So... are you okay? Until and unless you start to feel ill, probably yes? Commented Jul 9 at 1:15
  • To add to @XanderHenderson comment, the time it takes for bacteria to grow to levels that are pathogenic (once consumed) is usually in the 24 or more hours range - 3 hours (at time of commenting) is quite short to notice any symptoms. If you don't come down with diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the next 3 or so days you should be in the clear.
    – bob1
    Commented Jul 9 at 3:58
  • 1
    Hi, I'm afraid we can't address your question here. We can only tell you whether what you did is accordance with official food safety rules, or not - but you already know that. For the question "will I be OK", nobody can provide an answer that's better than a random guess - not we, not your doctor, and not the best microbiologist in the world. You just have to wait and see.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jul 9 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


No worries.

Meat, before butchering, is completely sterile. Especially large masses of muscle like beef cuts. It may accidentally get surface contamination by bacteria from intestinal contents in the butchering process. But a single bacteria cannot make you sick. Even the most potent bacteria like Campylobacter need a dose of about 100,000 organisms to produce symptoms.

The interior of the steak is still sterile when you buy it because it has not been touched, If there are any bacteria, they are on the cut surface of the steak

Bacteria, under optimum conditions of temperature, double their numbers every 20 minutes. So it would take about 5 or 6 hours (at optimum temperature) for a single bug to grow into a problem. So, if you held a raw steak at body temperature for 6 hours, it would be unwise to eat it. Give it to me instead. I would wash it with dishwashing soap, BBQ it and enjoy.

Ground meat is a completely different issue. When meat is ground, especially in large batches, any bacteria on the surface is distributed through the bulk of the meat. I would not eat ground beef or pork unless I knew it had been kept cold from meat market to BBQ. Ground poultry is even scarier since it is almost certainly contaminated with salmonella.

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