Parasite research: pork infected at a low level
A recent survey into retail meats revealed that the common microscopic
Toxoplasma gondii parasite can be found at only a very low level in pork.
The study to this bacteria, infecting animals and humans globally, was
conducted by scientists with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study was led by scientists Dolores E. Hill and Jitender P. Dubey of
USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and was published in The Journal
The scientists analysed samples of retail meat obtained from
nearly 700 stores in the USA. nationwide. About 2,000 samples of pork were
purchased from stores in 28 major geographic areas throughout the country.
Apart from pork also 2,000 samples of poultry and 2,000 samples of beef were
None of the raw beef and chicken meat samples contained live T. gondii
parasites, based on a controlled analysis. In raw pork from retail meat cases
nationwide, the prevalence of live T. gondii parasites was estimated at a
low 0.4%, or about four per 1,000 samples.
This percentage can effectively eliminated by proper cooking.
The parasite can damage developing fetuses and persons with
weakened immune systems, such as people infected with HIV, experts say.
Infants born to mothers who
become infected for the first
time just before or during pregnancy are at risk of developing severe toxoplasmosis
due to T.
â€¢ Journal of Parasitology
â€¢ Agricultural Research Service
â€¢ United States Department of
â€¢ Centers for Disease Control
Photo by Keith Weller
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