As a relatively new writer for this magnificent website, I don’t know if I’ve ever made clear that I’m ignorant in some of the staples of science fiction, while maintaining a wild interest in science that never existed at a time when education was of easy access to me. But I love pork. These two thoughts aren’t necessarily related, but I would even offer that kind of damaging confession in order to avoid naysaying the belly-swaying powers of pork.
Consumer Reports, the most significantly honest company to ever exist, consumerly reported that raw pork, in both the ground and chop variety, contain some of the same bacteria that other raw foods contain. I hope your heart attack medicine was nearby. Admittedly, there are more than the usual suspects.
Yersinia enterocolitica infects about 100,000 Americans yearly, causing diarrhea, fever and stomach hurties, and it showed up in 69 percent of the 240 pork samples analyzed. Salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, or listeria monocytogenes were found in three to six percent of samples. Enterococcus indicates fecal contamination and can cause urinary-tract infection, and was in 11 percent of the samples.
Ractopamine, a U.S.-approved growth drug, was found in a fifth of the porkness. While the drug has side effects like restlessness and anxiety, among other things, it’s found below all legal levels — FDA-50 ppb/International-10 ppb — at less than five parts per billion. That said, it’s evidence the drug was used in at least that many pigs; anything entirely negative for people has not been proven.
Some of the bacteria found had high percentages of being invincible to antibiotics. But let’s get to their tips to find the real relevance here.
Make sure your food is cooked properly by using a meat thermometer. Wash your hands. Don’t let raw meat touch other foods. Look for “non-hormone” and “no antibiotics” labels on your packaging. Buy organic.
Half of that is common sense. A quarter of it is food hysteria. The other quarter is that murky level of untested “new food” theory. I’m not saying organic pigs aren’t better. I can’t, as a pork eater whose relative health has improved with age despite a lack of caring (said just before the killer downfall), and a non-scientist, say that these facts aren’t worrisome. I’m just saying they’re not as worrisome as they’re presented to be. Be smart. You’re halfway there by reading a story about pork in the first place.