Put the pork chop down. Back away from the bacon. Let lay that loin. According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, most pork in grocery stores is contaminated with yersinia enterocolitica, "a lesser-known food-borne pathogen." How much contaminated pork did they find?
I hope you're sitting down.
Consumer Reports found that 69 percent of the pork it bought was tainted. That is not okay.
The CDC says more than 100,000 people are sickened by yersinia enterocolitica each year, but that for every case diagnosed, more than 120 are not. What does this pesky pathogen do to us? Symptoms include fever, cramps, and bloody diarrhea. Ouch.
What's scary is how pervasive the contamination is. Consumer Reports tested 148 pork chops and 50 ground pork samples from around the U.S. and discovered that 69 percent tested positive for yersinia and 11 percent for enterococcus, "which can indicate fecal contamination that can lead to urinary-tract infections." Salmonella was found in 4 percent of samples and listeria was present in 3 percent.
The good news for us is that most of this pork can be made safe by cooking it properly -- pork should be cooked to 145 degrees, and ground pork to 160 degrees. (And that bit about the bacon earlier, bacon is totally fine. I just like alliteration.)
It is worrisome, knowing how much bacteria is floating around in our food supply. Between contaminated peanut butter, salmonella-laden spinach, and now pork, it's a wonder there's anything left to eat. I'd suggest we all just curl up with some Twinkies, but we all know what happened to those. But in all seriousness, our food producers really need to be held accountable for the way they handle food, and make sure their facilities are clean and that our meat isn't winding up on store shelves full of harmful bacterial.
Does this make you less likely to eat pork?
Image via ugod/Flickr