Approximately 300 people attended NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler’s 8th Annual Food Safety Forum on Tuesday at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Experts from several sectors of the food business were on-hand for talks and a question and answer period afterward.
It’s only been a couple of generations, or less when pork was considered a ‘dirty’ meat, and had to be handled and cooked with care. Much has changed and National Pork Producer Council’s Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom was a keynote speaker:
“One very solid example is that of human trichinosis. The risk for a pig of having trichina come from exposure to wild life, so by moving pigs inside we decrease that exposure. A concern we have is from people who prefer pasture raised animals, we have to look at where the intervention is, whether its freezing or proper cooking or other interventions we can put in place to assure that product is safe to eat.
While indoor pigs can conjure up the image of ‘factory farming’ it’s just not true. But it does allow for us to have processes and control. We can wash and disinfect the barns, we can keep rodents out, and we can be sure that people are wearing boots that stay in the barns so they are not tracking foreign things in. These are all things we do to improve not only pig health but also food safety.
If we look back to the 1940s and 50s it wasn’t unusual to have 400-500 cases per year of human trichinosis. Now it is about 6-12 and most of those come from wild life sources. So trying to find pork sources as a cause is very rare.
For those who do want pasture raised, there are definitely places to put in interventions to make sure things are safe. There are two interventions to speak of – one is if you freeze pork it will kill the parasite known to cause trichinosis, and second if you cook it to at least 145 degrees and then let it sit for about three minutes post cooking, that will also kill that parasite.
Pork consumption has risen over the last few years after USDA released that information that cooking temperature is 145 degrees. Pork is a great product and able to be used in such a versatile manner.”
NPPC’s Dr. Liz Wagstrom.