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Food of the month - Pork

November 2014

Pork is packed full of nutrients

That’s it! The nights are drawing in, the heating is coming on and it is time to forget those tasty fresh salads of summer. Now it is much nicer to cook up a fabulous hot meal with all the trimmings and meat roasts are always a favourite in winter.

We hear so much about how we mustn’t eat too much meat and how meat can be bad for us, and one meat that receives a lot of warnings is pork. In some religions it is not acceptable to eat it in any form; and for others there is concern that pork can harbour a number of toxins. In situations where pork is not raised in an acceptable or healthy manner, pork meat can contain some dangerous contaminants. In one investigation in America, 69 per cent of all raw pork sampled was contaminated with the dangerous bacteria yersinia enterocolitica which causes fever and gastrointestinal illness.

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Other tests on pork have found the controversial drug ractopamine, used to boost growth while leaving the meat lean. This is now banned in certain parts of the world including China and Europe.

There has been concern that pork can contain Hepatitis E and there is also the aspect of the fast digestion. Pigs digest their food quickly, in around four hours. This compared with a cow that takes around twenty four hours to digest what it eats, giving a longer process to get rid of excess toxins and other components that can be dangerous to human health. If you look further, there are reports that pigs carry a variety of parasites in their bodies that can be difficult to kill in cooking, including trichinellosis which can cause serious health problems.

So why is pork still on the agenda? Because reared properly with careful husbandry and supervision, pork is a really healthy meat bringing lots of nutrition and benefits to humans – plus it is super tasty.

For a start, it provides very good levels of protein, around 20%. Pork is also packed with vitamins. It is rich in vitamin B1 (thiamine) which is key for vitality and energy levels. A 100g pork steak will contain around 90% of our daily requirements. Pork is also a really good source of vitamin V12, key to help our nervous systems; and it also contains B6 and niacin.

Pork is also a very good source of zinc and also iron. Even better, the iron in pork is easy to absorb. Pork also assists us to absorb iron from bread and vegetables which is an added bonus. Interestingly pork also contains zinc and selenium.

And of course best of all, pork tastes fabulous and it is such a versatile meat that can be adapted to a range of exciting menu ideas.

Cooking pork properly is important, and processed pork products can bring all sorts of additional areas of concern. But for many people now the nights are drawing in, tasty pork recipes can be a very good addition to normal everyday and also party menus.


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