Pork is a widely eaten meat. Some cultures and cooking practices allow eating of raw or undercooked pork. While it is an acceptable practice, there are cautions you need to take.
Pork is highly delicious, but can be problematic if not prepared well. In fact, eating raw pork can be risky in terms of health and can cause some serious side effects. Eating raw foods, such as some kinds of fish and seafood is enjoyable, especially if the foods are well prepared. Unfortunately, pork is not in this group. This article discusses everything you need to know about the consumption of raw pork, including the side effects and healthy preparation tips.
Is Consumption of Rare Pork Safe?
Rare pork is that piece of pork that contains blood on the inside. By no chance should it be consumed. On the other hand, stake can be safely eaten even when not fully brown. Keep in mind that pork meat is easily contaminated by certain bacteria and parasites. During cooking, these disease-causing microorganisms are exposed to high heat that kills them. Therefore, when pork is not cooked to the right temperature, there is a possibility that these pathogens will not be dead and can be consumed. With what results? Your body may develop a series of reactions that can make you sick.
Pork meat is particularly prone to a parasite called Trichinella spiralis – which is a type of roundworm that causes trichinosis or trichinellosis. This roundworm is also found in meat obtained from bears, boars, and walruses. Additionally, raw pork may also get contaminated by Taenia solium or Taenia asiatica. These parasites penetrate the digestive system and multiply leading to infections like cysticercosis and taeniasis. Thus, the consumption of rare or raw pork is not safe. It may help cooking your pork to the right temperature so as to reduce the likelihood of developing these infections.
Clinical Signs of Ingesting Contaminated Pork
Trichinosis has mild symptoms which show up after a 24 to 48 hours of ingesting contaminated, raw pork. In some individuals, it may emerge even after 7 days of consumption. Once the larvae has penetrated the alimentary canal, they start reproducing between the fifth and seventh day. This may lead to some abdominal upset causing symptoms like fatigue, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. After a week or more, the larvae burrow themselves deep into the intestinal walls and muscles. This is a phase that is coupled with chills, headache, high grade fever, rashes, facial swellings, photosensitivity, and muscle ache. When treatment is delayed, this infection can lead to severe complications and affect the brain or the heart. However, with prompt and adequate medical management, trichinosis fully heals after 8 weeks. On the other hand, infections caused by tapeworms like cysticercosis are not easy to diagnose as their symptoms are delayed. The diagnosis of tapeworm may be successful after incubation period of 60 to 90 days after ingestion of contaminated pork by analyzing stool samples. Often, the symptoms of taeniasis include obstruction of the intestines, pain, anal irritation, digestive discomfort, and unexplained weight loss. Cysticercosis usually present with seizures along with other symptoms. For seizures to develop, it means that the parasite has lodged in the brain, heart, or eye.
High Risk Individuals
Certain groups of people can easily become sick from eating raw pork. People with low immune system should ensure that they eat pork that has been cooked to the appropriate temperature. People in this group include those undergoing cancer therapy, pregnant women, and people under medications that lower immunity, such as corticosteroids. What is more, people with HIV/AIDS, those who have undergone organ transplant, or people living with diabetes should be mindful about the safety of their food.
It is absolutely hard to tell whether one pork is infected with tapeworms or Trichinella spiralis by taking an intent look at it. The larvae are microscopic and can’t be seen by a naked eye. It is thus important to cook your pork properly and to the appropriate temperature. Only that way will you be sure that your meat is safe. The appropriate temperature talked about here is 58 degrees Celsius for trichinae, and 50 to 65 degrees Celsius for tapeworm larvae. Studies indicate that tapeworm eggs and larvae can also be killed at temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius, especially in a roast that bake for 20 minutes. In US, it is recommended that pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 63 degrees Celsius for loins, steaks, and chops. However, ground pork or organ meat should be cooked to 71 degrees Celsius. Be it ground pork or loin, in either meat, a period of up to 3 minutes should be allowed before the meat is consumed. The USDA revised guidelines states that a meat that is cooked to an internal temperature of 63 degrees Celsius should be pinkish when cut through. Remember that proper food handling is needed at all times. This includes such practices as handwashing and washing dishes and cutting surfaces with clean water.
Nutrition Profile of Pork
Pork is particularly high in protein. The amount of fat, however, varies depending on the part of meat eaten. A single serving of cooked ground pork, weighing 100 grams provides 297 calories, 53% water, 25.7 grams of protein, and 20.8 g of fat. It is free of fiber, carbs, and sugar. Due to its high amount of protein, pork is a good type of meat for bodybuilding, athlete recovery, and muscle repair. Additionally, pork is an excellent source of thiamine, selenium, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. Thiamine is a type of B vitamins that takes part in several bodily functions. Selenium is needed for healthy thyroid and is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cell formation, whereas iron and zinc are needed for a healthy brain and strong immune system.
Pork is delicious meat and can be eaten in different ways. However, eating raw or undercooked pork is not one of them as it may result to serious infections like cysticercosis and trichinosis. You should always cook your pork to an internal temperature of 63 degrees Celsius.