Recently I was reminded of the taboo of eating pork held by some Muslims, Jews and Seventh Day Adventists. I was given a link from Dr Axe, warning against eating pork. I wasn’t expecting much but I was hoping the Dr would provide some scientific basis for his claims. Unfortunately he even struggled with basics like properly citing scientific sources. At best he has demonstrated his ignorance of basic academic work at worst he is being wilfully misleading and lying. I have outlines some of his claims and responded below.
“The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that more than 100 viruses come to the United States each year from China through pigs.”
See if you can find evidence for this statement anywhere on the CDC website or in any CDC publication. The author does not link to any of this information, which is odd since it wouldn’t have been a hard thing to do. My guess is this not what the CDC says but an exaggeration of something their site or a plain lie.
“Of course, you’re probably familiar with H1N1, better known as ‘the swine flu. This too is a virus that has made the leap from pig to human.”
Yes true, pigs can transmit swine flu to humans. However you cannot get swine flu from eating pork. The transmission was originally from people in contact with live pigs and then the virus was passed from human to human. Also the same dietary guidelines that disallow pork consumption in the bible also allow for poultry consumption. The avian flu is transmittable from chickens to humans, but I’m yet to find an Adventist, Jew or Muslim sharing any fear mongering article about chicken consumption with me. Actually some vegetarians might lol
“Did you know that pigs carry a variety of parasites in their bodies and meat? Some of these parasites are difficult to kill even when cooking. This is the reason there are so many warnings out there about eating undercooked pork.”
Actually it’s incredibly easy to kill these parasites when cooking them unless you have a very poor knowledge of how to cook meat. In fact you get warnings about not undercooking chicken due to salmonella poisoning and not undercooking fish due to botulism. But again, I’d be surprised to see a fear mongering article about fish or chicken.
“One of the biggest concerns with eating pork meat is trichinellosis or trichinosis.”
If you are concerned about this just consider the following from the CDC “During 2008–2010, 20 cases were reported per year on average. The number of cases decreased beginning in the mid-20th century because of legislation prohibiting the feeding of raw-meat garbage to hogs, commercial and home freezing of pork, and the public awareness of the danger of eating raw or undercooked pork products. Cases are less commonly associated with pork products and more often associated with eating raw or undercooked wild game meats.” So don’t eat raw or undercooked game meats.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel good about eating anything that I first have to kill off its worms to eat.”
If its the ick factor that stops the author then he also needs to consider that the CDC also gives instructions on how to cook poultry to prevent trichinellosis. So he might want to consider not eating chicken either. Also again his fish needs to be cooked properly to prevent him from being harmed by botulisms and his vegetables need to be washed for the same reason. But that doesn’t seem to be mentioned.
“Pigs are primary carriers of:
-Taenia solium tapeworm
-Hepatitis E virus (HEV)
-PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome)
Regarding Taenia solium tapeworm. According to the CDC “Humans can become infected with these tapeworms by eating raw or undercooked beef (T. saginata) or pork (T. solium and T. asiatica).” The dietary guidelines don’t have a problem with beef, so what does this prove about porks uncleanliness? Nothing much.
Regarding HEV, according to the CDC “Hepatitis E virus is usually spread by the fecal-oral route. The most common source of infection is fecally contaminated drinking water. In developed countries sporadic outbreaks have occurred following consumption of uncooked/undercooked pork or deer meat. Consumption of shellfish was a risk factor in a recently described outbreak.” So unless you are again consuming undercooked or uncooked pork, you should be fine.
PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome): Cannot find evidence showing that this can be passed on to humans though it is present in pigs.
Nipah virus: Yes it can be passed on from close contact with pigs. Outbreaks have also occurred from people eating raw date palm sap infected by bats. Again no suggestion that eating pork will do this.
Menangle virus: Again, can be passed to humans but from close contact to pigs, no evidence to suggest eating pork will do this.
So all in all, an article like many others I’ve read that rely on cherrypicking facts and for some bizzare reason trying to twist those facts to make it seem like consuming pig meat is bad for your health.