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How Safe is Pink Pork?

09 February 2014

UK - Pink Pork is more cooked than a rare steak would be, according to JSR Genetics' meat scientist Dr Caroline Mitchell.


Caroline Mitchell, Meat Scientist

It would be classed as medium-rare to medium-well in steak terms, it would not be recommended to eat pork rare (core temperature <62°C).

"You should aim for a core temperature of between 62-68°C," she said.

According to Dr Mitchell, this will leave the meat with only a slight tinge of pink in the middle, but it will be more succulent and tender than meat cooked to higher temperatures. Pork in sausage meat, for example, should be cooked to 71°C at a minimum, preferably 75°C.

In answer to a comment "My Aunt says eating Pink Pork can give you worms," Dr Mitchell said, "Historically, yes, it was a risk. However, there have been no confirmed human cases of trichinosis (or worms) from meat produced in the UK since 1969.

"The last reported case in a domestic pig from the UK was in 1979 in Northern Ireland. The disease, however, is widespread in Europe, so we would not recommend you eating pink pork abroad."

When asked about how to be sure the meat doesn't contain worms (Trichinella Spiralis), she answered, "The UK pig herd is believed to be free from the infection. However, they don't just take it as a given - as part of the EU regulations, every slaughtered pig is checked for the trichinae (which is the worm larvae) that causes Trichinosis in humans. There hasn't been a reported case since 1979 though, so pig meat is very safe."

She said: "The worm is a small nematode worm called Trichinella Spiralis, and its larvae can cause a disease called Trichinosis, which can affect many species including humans. People can become infected by eating raw, undercooked or processed meat from pigs, wild boar, horses or game that contain the trichinae."

When asked if one needed to worry about any other infections from eating pink pig meat, she said that no food can be guaranteed to be sterile.

"However, there are lots of food safety procedures that are put in place to make food as safe as possible. Generally, a risk is only introduced during butchery stages or handling of the product in the kitchen.

"JSR ensures that the best food hygiene standards are maintained throughout the supply chain and that all the temperature controls are met. You are at no more risk than you would be from eating a rare steak, oysters, eggs or similar foods."

She continued, in answer to why one should eat Pink Pork, "You would choose to eat pink pork for the same reasons as choosing to eat rare/medium-rare steak. We know that meat cooked to a lower internal temperature (68°C or below) produces a far more succulent and tender product. This has been confirmed by multiple taste panels around the world."

January 2014

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