Experts vividly describe what can happen if you consume raw meat.
Toxic masculinity is a curse and it continues to lead to all sorts of bizarre behaviors. In one recent viral video, we see its latest casualty: A giant cringe of a man who eats what appear to be raw eggs and organs on social media in the hopes of becoming the buffest body on the block.
Fitness influencer Weam Breiche filmed himself consuming six raw eggs and (what he claims to be) one raw beef brain in a TikTok posted on March 14 that has been viewed more than 12.5 million times as of this writing. In the video, he suggests this particular combination of biomaterials is a “high protein breakfast when you don’t have time to cook.”
Right away, a question emerges: Who has simply no time to scramble an egg in the morning, but plenty of time to procure raw beef brain to maintain its freshness in the fridge?
Apparently the answer is Breiche, who in other videos consumes many different raw meats and organs for his over 120,000 combined followers on TikTok and Instagram. Some of the “delicacies” Breiche claims to gnaws on wildebeest-style include but are not limited to: spleens, bone marrow, beef testicles, and something he calls a raw organ smoothie. (I’ll stick to my mango lemongrass smoothies, thanks.) If you’re getting Fear Factor flashbacks you’re not alone. What are the risks of eating raw animal products like this?
“Eating raw spleen and other raw organs can result in not only bacterial risks of consuming undercooked meats, but other disorders that can be transmitted through raw or undercooked meat products,” says Kelly Johnson-Arbor, medical toxicologist and co-director of the National Capital Poison Center to Mic. She adds that raw or cooked eggs contain the same amount of protein, but by scrambling, hard-boiling, or frying them you can reduce your risk of contracting bacterial infections like salmonella. See? You’ll won’t become Rocky by drinking raw eggs anyway, my loves.
“Eggs are incredibly nutritious, but they need to be cooked,” adds Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutritionist and associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, confirming what the American Egg Board recommends. “While your risk of contracting salmonella is very low, cooking them is still recommended. There can be microscopic cracks in the shell where salmonella or other bacteria can enter the egg.”. Ayoob also recommends cooking the entire egg, which means no runny yolks either, which is tragic for lovers of the soft boil.
As for raw brain consumption, Clarice, the dangers far outweigh the benefits. “Eating raw animal brain can cause some pretty severe disorders that result in neurologic deterioration and death, including several prion diseases,“ says Johnson-Arbor. Prions, or abnormal pathogens that affect the proteins in brain matter, are directly transmissible through substances like cat feces, animal fertilizer, and raw meat. While they're not viruses or bacteria, they’re not completely understood by current science, which is even more horrifying. One potential prion-induced illness is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has symptoms similar to those of other dementia-like brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, but progresses much more rapidly than any of them.
“What we do know is that prions are infectious particles that affect the brain and can be found as the cause of these rare diseases,” says Johnson-Arbor, adding that another prion disease, toxoplasmosis, has symptoms which include muscle pain, fever, and headache, all of which can last for weeks. And that’s the less dangerous one. “We don't have a cure for these diseases, but we think we know what causes them,” she says. “But in many of the reports of these cases, exposure to meat was a factor in developing the disease.”
Breiche is not the only raw meat activist to pop up in recent times, either. Far right anti-soy boy activists, and sadly, Heidi Montag (remember her?), have also suggested there are health benefits to consuming raw meat, which every single medical professional I spoke to for this article warns against. “There is no credible evidence that eating raw meat is useful or healthful, regardless of the organ,” says Ayoob, pointing out that you don’t know if the machinery, blades, and utensils used to cut these organs was sterile or clean, like you do with sushi grade salmon for instance.
Since there’s no knowledge of the sanitation between animal and marketplace, including how the meat was handled or kept, according to FDA guidelines, there’s no way for you to know what’s going on in that slab of beef you have in front of you, so please, give it a sear to kill any bacteria hanging around. “It’s irresponsible to recommend eating raw animal products, period, full stop,” he says.
For Breiche’s part, he does have a disclaimer in his profile description about how nothing he says is medical advice, regardless of how much of what he says in his videos sounds suspiciously like advice. Breiche even provides a discount code on this Instagram page to a place you can go buy raw meat.
Another thing: He touts, in one of his videos, an all-meat diet, claiming it raises your testosterone. I don’t need to tell most of you, but just to say it, the benefits of an all-meat diet pale in comparison to the risks. Johnson-Arbor also tells me that it's important to know that you can actually have too much protein, and that too much can cause kidney problems in some patients.
If we all were to use TikTok as our road to wellness and not what it really is (entertainment) we’d all be making Flaming Hot Cheetos macaroni for dinner, and no one’s intestinal tract wants that. So please, use your brain and don’t chew on one.