Eating uncooked bacon can expose you to bacteria as well as parasites and can cause either bacterial infections or trichinellosis, also called trichinosis, a parasitic infection. Bacterial infections and trichinellosis can both cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
Farmers raising pastured pigs acknowledge that pigs raised outdoors have a higher risk of coming into contact with rodents and other animals that carry the pathogen for trichinosis (one of Wilbur’s closest friends in “Charlotte’s Web” was Templeton the rat).
That said, the number of cases of trichinosis in the United States has plummeted as the number of pastured pigs has increased, with most cases attributable to consumption of meat from other wild animals like bears.
For many years, the pork industry has been assuring cooks that a little pink in the pork is fine. Trichinosis, which can be deadly, was assumed to be history.
While people in the West are slowly warming to the idea of medium-rare swine, Japan's ministry of health has announced a ban on restaurants serving raw or undercooked pork.
Since few Americans ate raw pork, trichinosis was never a big problem in the United States. Just to be safe, however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture advised, time and again, that pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160° Fahrenheit. If thermometers were not available, boiling pork for 15 minutes per pound in summer (or 18 minutes per pound in winter) would prevent trichinosis.
Factory-farmed pork is hardly an ideal food—but pigs from small farms might be more likely to make you sick.
While I'm contemplating all of this trichinosis business – the fact that I’m starting to develop stomach cramps, Oskar's looking pale and Isla hasn’t yelled in over 5 minutes which for sure means she’s really sick...
The domestic pig is the main reservoir host for T. spiralis. This species is significantly higher in prevalence in people living in certain parts of Europe, Asia, and Southeast Asia than in the United States. It is now considered endemic in Japan and China.
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People acquire trichinellosis by consuming raw or undercooked meat infected with the Trichinella parasite, particularly wild game meat or pork. Even tasting very small amounts of undercooked meat during preparation or cooking puts you at risk for infection. Outbreaks occur in settings where multiple people consume the same Trichinella-infected meat.
There are no accurate tests for the early phase of infection of the intestines. The history of eating raw or undercooked meat could be the first clue. Unfortunately, most people infected do not seek physician help during the relatively short intestinal phase.
Trichinella species are found world wide and infect a wide variety of animal hosts, mostly carnivorous and omnivorous wild mammals, especially those that scavenge, such as foxes, bears, pigs and wild boar.
Mild infections are usually asymptomatic.
Heavy infection causes gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhoea, abdominal pain, vomiting) within 1-2 days of infection.
Larval migration into muscle tissues (one week after infection) can cause periorbital and facial oedema, conjunctivitis, headaches, fever, joint and muscle pains, petechiae and pruritus.
TRICHINOSIS is a disease that is present around most parts of the world, from North America and Europe, to Japan, China and tropical Africa. Some regions that are not really affected are Puerto Rico and Australia. Highlighting the incidences of transmission through uncooked portions of meat, specifically pork, Trichinosis impacts the realm of food and culture for its specific regions.