The news of an international outbreak of a particular strain of the influenza virus, known as the "swine flu," is plastered all over the news for the passed few days. This potential pandemic is causing civilizations around the world to exercise caution around one another and also the source of the virus. This fear and near panic could very well cause a significant decrease in pork consumption on a world wide scale. Although I would encourage preventative measures when going out in public, please be aware of the following:
****YOU WILL NOT BECOME INFECTED WITH THE SWINE FLU BY CONSUMING PORK PRODUCTS! PORK PRODUCTS ARE SAFE FOR CONSUMPTION!****
This must be made clear to everyone. You can only become infected with the virus if you come in direct contact with live swine that are infected, or human beings who are already infected with the virus.
Pork products are still safe to consume, just remember to always follow the golden rules for safe preparation and cooking for any pork product.
Rules for Safe Preparation and Cooking of Pork:
#1- ALWAYS wash your hands when handling ANY type of raw meat. This prevents the spread of harmful bacteria
#2- Do NOT cross contaminate cooking utensils, non-meat food products, hands and work surfaces with anything that has come in contact with raw meat without being cleaned first. As with hand washing, this also prevents the spread of bacteria.
#3- ALWAYS cook pork completely. The universal temperature for any well done, fully cooked meat is 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
#4- Pork is best when cooked and consumed within an average of 4 days refrigerated, and 5 months frozen.
#5- ALWAYS prepare raw meats on non-porous surfaces. Avoid placing raw meat on wooden cutting boards and similar surfaces. Instead, use plastic cutting boards and season raw meats over tin foil (my personal suggestion- that way you can just throw away the foil with the raw juices on it).
#6- NEVER keep cooked or raw meat at room temperature for several hours. After meat is cooked, allow it to cool completely and refrigerate. If having a buffet, be sure to keep the meat warmed in any food warming device, but don't leave the meat where it can reach room temperature for more than a few hours. If you leave meat, raw or cooked, out at room temp overnight, do NOT eat it. Bacteria can grow on any meat, raw or cooked, if left out at room temp for too long.
Here are some tips the USDA recommends when selecting pork cuts at your local grocer or butcher:
When buying pork, look for cuts with smaller amounts of fat over the outside, with a firm meat texture and a grayish pink color. For best flavor and tenderness, meat should have a small amount of marbling throughout.
Here's an example of what to look for:
So please, be aware of the virus, but don't fear the pork! The economy and our international farmers/herders are suffering enough already, let's not make it any worse because of misinformation. Proper education and preparation will ensure the health and safety of everyone regarding meat, livestock, and the masses.