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Trichinae

pork, heat, cooking and millions

TRICHINAE: are small parasites or worms, barely visible to the naked eye, which are found sometimes in pork, and which, if they enter the human system, breed rapidly, bore through the walls of the intestines and bury themselves in the muscles of the sufferer. They can exist in extraordinary numbers in the smallest compass— twenty millions or more have been estimated as existing in one diseased person.

This parasite is more common among Germans than any other nationality, probably because of their habit of eating smoke-dried sausage and other preparations of pork which are only partly cooked. Neither pork nor pork products of any kind should ever be eaten in a raw or semi-cooked condition. Heavily salted meats are generally free from them, but the heat engendered in careful and complete cooking is the only sure preventive.

Furthermore, reliance cannot be placed in the process of cooking in the case of large joints, as the heat attained in the center is not always sufficiently great to kill the trichinEe. Small pieces thoroughly broiled over a strong fire, are rendered entirely innocuous, because heat of high temperature permeates every portion, and small joints thoroughly boiled or baked are also safe, but it is best to give a second cooking—as broiling, etc.—to portions cut from a large joint.

When pork from an animal in an otherwise normally healthy condition has been thoroughly cooked, the presence of the destroyed trichinae does not in any way impair its flavor, digestibility or food value, for they exist in the flesh only in a dormant, sac-enclosed condition—they do not enjoy active existence or breed until they find themselves in the digestive organs of man, or other mammals. It is not any

poisonous quality in the tiny bodies of the live trichinae as present in the pork when consumed that renders them dangerous to health—it is only the fact that in the diges tive organs they awake to life and breed millions of others, and it is these millions which do damage by boring through the walls of the intestines and into the muscles of the victim to find a place in which to enclose themselves in tiny sacs or coats, there to sleep in apparent lifelessness, as did their progenitors. If the trichinae are pre vented from awakening and breeding by being killed by the heat in cooking, they are no more objectionable than similar tiny parasites often found in the flesh of herbiv orous animals.

Trichinae are frequently found in many other omnivorous animals, but this has little interest from the standpoint of the ordinary individual, as the pig is the only member of this class which is an article of popular diet.