Oooh! Now I remember why we medicated the piggies.

Be sure to wash pigs carefully: before kissing or eating.
Be sure to wash pigs carefully: before kissing or eating.Courtesy Matt & Helen Hamm
A new study out of Ohio State University has shown that pigs raised outdoors, antibiotic-free, on “animal friendly” farms are more likely to be infected with parasites and bacteria than animals from conventional farms. That’s sort of a surprise—that pigs without antibiotics would have more…biotics

Two of the infections found in the pigs have been seen around Science Buzz recently: toxoplasma gondii, the cat poop parasite, and salmonella, that troublesome bacteria that’s been getting in our tomatoes.

Also found in the antibiotic-free pigs was the parasite Trichinella spiralis, a round worm that can cause very serious illness in humans. Only two of the six hundred or so pigs tested were found to be hosts to trichinella, but this is still a surprising figure for an organism that has been nearly eradicated on conventional farms (veterinarians usually expect perhaps one pig in fourteen thousand to contain trichinella).

So that’s kind of yucky.

But consider this: even pigs treated with antibiotics were not free of salmonella and toxoplasma. 54% of untreated pigs had salmonella in their bodies, but so did 39% of treated pigs, and while about 7% of untreated pigs carried toxoplasma bacteria, over 1% of the treated pigs did too. Also, if you’re into the cruelty-free part of natural farming (not me—I’m all about cruelty to animals) it should be noted that the piggies aren’t actually sick, they’re simply carriers of these organisms.

The scientists behind the study are careful to point out that they aren’t recommending one form of pork production over the other—each has its benefits as well as its downsides. While pigs raised antibiotic-free are more likely to have higher rates of common bacteria of food safety concern, treated pigs can “create a favorable environment for strains of the bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.” So that’s no good.

The thing is, you shouldn’t really be worried about any of these pathogens, assuming that you handle and cook your pork properly, and don’t go around licking pigs and things.

But far be it from me to judge that sort of thing.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Pigs are hard to wash

posted on Thu, 06/12/2008 - 2:06pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Here's an interesting story about an outdoor piglet in England who would rather be an indoor piglet.

posted on Thu, 06/12/2008 - 3:39pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

What a cute little goofball! I just want to eat her up!

posted on Thu, 06/12/2008 - 3:42pm
alisabeth's picture
alisabeth says:

why would you want to kiss a pig in the first place?

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 1:40pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Kiss? Yuck!! That was a joke.

I did say "lick," though. And until someone invents some sort of pig-cleaning machine, I'm afraid we'll all just have to learn to deal with licking pigs.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 1:54pm
Salena Trice's picture
Salena Trice says:

They need to feed pigs things that are healthly for the pigs to eat not over feed them to make them really sick.

posted on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 10:26am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

for all you spiritual people you are not suppose to eat pork so whats the point right

posted on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 1:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

All major spiritual books tell us not to eat pork so dont eat it people

posted on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 1:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think pigs are very ugly

posted on Sat, 07/05/2008 - 11:36am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yum! I love to eat bacon! I will name the cute pig dinner.

posted on Sun, 07/06/2008 - 2:58pm

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