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Health Risks Fail to Deter Ethiopians from Eating Raw Meat

Health Risks Fail to Deter Ethiopians from Eating Raw Meati
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September 20, 2013
Ethiopians continue to eat raw meat at family and festive occasions despite health risks that include exposure to tapeworms, salmonella and E-coli. Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from Addis Ababa on why the practice persists.

Raw Meat Still Popular in Ethiopia

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Marthe van der Wolf
— Ethiopians continue to eat raw meat at family and festive occasions despite health risks that include exposure to tapeworms, salmonella and E-coli.

While most people are taught that eating raw meat is not good for you, the tradition persists in Ethiopia.  Whenever there is something to celebrate -- like a wedding, or the end of one of the many fasting weeks for the large Orthodox community -- raw meat is eaten in large quantities.
 
The story goes that eating raw meat started during times of war.  Fighters hiding in the mountains would have exposed themselves by making fire, and so ate their meat raw.
 
Temesgen Yilma is the owner of Yilma Restaurant, one of the most famous raw meat restaurants in Addis Ababa.  He eats raw meat almost every day and claims that neither he nor his customers have gotten sick from eating it.
 
“Today we are the only butchery in the country having our own animal transport trucks and meat transport vehicle," noted Yilma.  "And our meat is always inspected by the ministry of agriculture, it’s free of any tape worm or any other thing.  It’s always inspected and its always healthy.”

The meat is delivered late at night or early in the morning to one of the hundreds of raw meat establishments in the city.  The delivery time is important, to ensure the freshness of the meat and thus to prevent customers from falling ill.
 
But despite these precautions, eating raw meat still poses the risk of several types of infections.  Akaze Teame is the medical director at the American Medical Center.  He said that eating raw meat is not recommended.

“You will also be at risk of non-communicable diseases such as stroke and heart disease because as you’ve witnessed, most people when they consume raw meat they actually like it white, with a lot of fat on it," Teame explained. "So that puts the person at a much increased risk for heart disease and stroke as well.”

Whatever the health risks, for many Ethiopians raw meat remains one of the most popular dishes.  And to prevent tapeworms, the most common and well-known consequence of eating raw meat, any meat lover can just walk to the pharmacy and buy pills without a prescription.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rawraw from: Cali
September 23, 2013 1:50 AM
Disgusting. Someone needs to tell them to stop eating this stuff. Gross.


by: Wond from: CA
September 21, 2013 10:56 AM
I am sure if you had followed the physician after work by the end of the day, you would have found him at Yilma's restaurant. I can't wait to get back to Ethiopia and taste what makes me drool watching the clip:)

In Response

by: Rebecca from: Addis Ababa
September 29, 2013 10:31 AM
i have been eating raw meat for some years now and no health risk at all. Their meat is healthy and fresh at anytime. you won't find such service or product anywhere but at Yilma's.

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