PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some things just go together: holidays and ham, breakfast and sausage, baseball and hot dogs.
Pork products are part of American culture, but what might be cultured from pork is the subject of a Consumer Reports investigation.
Two-hundred samples of pork chops and ground pork were tested.
Two-thirds were contaminated with bacteria called Yersinia enterocolitica, which can cause fever and diarrhea. Also, they found salmonella and staph, some resistant to antibiotics.
Farmers give low-dose antibiotics to pigs to boost their size, drugs that are FDA approved and deemed to be safe.
“They’ve given it a good seal of approval that these are not harmful,” says Jean Lewis, a registered dietician at St. Clair Hospital. “I personally would rather not have antibiotics in my food.”
Despite the Consumer Reports findings, no outbreaks of any bacterial illnesses related to pork have occurred locally over the last decade.
Good preparation technique is important to staying safe.
“You want your chops, any kind of chops of solid form, to be cooked at least 145 degrees. And the ground, if it’s ground pork, it has to be at least 160 degrees,” says Lewis.
Also keep in mind, pork won’t keep forever.
Fresh pork chops should be thrown out after three to five days; ground pork, one to two days. Even frozen chops should be discarded after four to six months; and frozen ground pork, three to four months.