According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), eating bacon raw can cause illness from foodborne bacteria or parasites. While most types of commercially sold bacon are typically smoked and cured before the cutting and packaging process, this process does not kill all bacteria and parasites, making it important to cook bacon thoroughly before serving.
According to the USDA, bacon is cured using salt and nitrates to slow bacterial growth and prevent the growth of the deadly toxin Clostridium botulinum. However, Trichinella, a worm larvae, can also infect pork. This harmful parasite is not killed during the smoking and curing process. Additionally, bacteria present on the surface of the bacon requires it to be cooked to prevent illness.
Because of the thinness of bacon, it is not necessary to test its temperature to ensure its safety. The USDA recommends cooking bacon until it is crisp. Even when cooked thoroughly, bacon can remain slightly pink because of curing agents used during the curing process. FoodSafety.gov recommends storing fresh bacon in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for a maximum of seven days or in the freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below for one month for the best quality.