A voluntary certification program for pork producers just may give “the other white meat” a new
image. Until now, consumers’ fear of trichinosis-causing worms in pork has prompted sometimes
overzealous, thorough cooking of the meat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service
has been working to develop a voluntary national certification program for trichinae-free pork. The
final element, a 2-year pilot study, began this summer.
In cooperation with the National Pork Producers Council, the meat packing industry, the Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Dr. H. Ray Gamble, of
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, developed an ELISA test that enables veterinarians to screen
live animals for the infection from a blood sample. Gamble has been testing the procedure on herds
for two years.
Now, the National Pork Producers Council is urging producers to have their animals certified by an
APHIS-accredited veterinarian. Using a standardized checklist, the veterinarians will document
management practices that protect animals from infection. Production sites that meet the criteria will be
certified as having safe management practices. At the packing plant, certified animals
will be separated from non-certified pigs for further tracking and testing to be sure they really
Even though the number of pigs infected with the trichinae parasite has declined steadily for
decades, several overseas markets have closed their borders for U.S. pork producers. A certification
program that begins on the farm may hold promise for re-opened markets.…