Home Health & Lifestyle Pork: to Eat or Not?

Pork: to Eat or Not?


If you don’t joke with your pork and are very regular at pork joints, then you might want to take a step back, consider the dangers and re-examine your crave for pork.

It does get boring sometimes to hear that this food causes this or that. Nonetheless, many of those warnings are true and pork is one of the things to watch and avoid eating a lot of.

First, pigs eat a whole lot of things. Pigs eat virtually anything they can find: from insects, spoilt food and dead meat, to feces. Ewww!

Anyway, disgust with what pigs eat is not all that should make you worry about pork.

Pigs are known vectors of pathogenic parasites such as tapeworm, the trichinella worm, menangle virus and the Hepatitis E virus. Only a very small percentage of bred pigs are safe to eat with a low risk of infection. If the pig is the type that is left to roam freely and eat anything, you could be at significant risk of infection.

Unfortunately, some of these parasites that pigs harbor in their bodies can be difficult to kill even with cooking. To be safe, the cooking has to be intensive and the meat has to reach an internal temperature of 70°C. Even then, your protection is not guaranteed yet. The fatty parts of the meat can protect some parasites and would need hotter or longer cooking. If not, one could ingest the parasites which could then lead to gastrointestinal complications.

Let’s take the trichinella worm for instance. In pigs, trichinella make their way into the pig’s muscles and body tissues after getting into the stomach. From there, they can get into a human who eats under-cooked pork.

Inside the human digestive tract, trichinella worms grow to maturity in the small intestine where they mate. After about a week of getting in, the adult female worm reproduces larvae which enter the bloodstream and muscles. The resulting symptoms of trichinosis can result include headache, high fever, muscle pain, swelling of the eyelids and conjunctivitis (inflamed red eyes).

The Hepatitis E virus is another parasite borne by pigs. If transmitted to humans by eating, it can result in damage to the liver along with other adverse effects.

These are just some of the parasites that pigs can carry.

And due to their relatively high fat levels, pigs can also carry some toxins in their bodies without suffering the accompanying adverse effects.

In short, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so just watch how much pork you eat. Eat it sparingly. And lightly cooked or raw pork is a no-go.


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