Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359009

Research Project: Detection and Control of Foodborne Parasites for Food Safety

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: International commission on Trichinellosis: recommendations on post-harvest control of Trichinella in food animals

Author
item Noeckler, Karsten - Federal Institute For Risk Assessment
item Pozio, Edoardo - Istituto Superiore Di Sanita
item Van Der Giessen, Joke - National Institute For Public Health And The Environment (RIVM)
item Hill, Dolores
item Gamble, H Ray - National Academy Of Science

Submitted to: Food and Waterborne Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2019
Publication Date: 2/21/2019
Citation: Noeckler, K., Pozio, E., Van Der Giessen, J., Hill, D.E., Gamble, H. 2019. International commission on Trichinellosis: recommendations on post-harvest control of Trichinella in food animals. Food and Waterborne Parasitology. 14: e00041. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fawpar.2019.e00041
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fawpar.2019.e00041

Interpretive Summary: Domestic and wild animals which consume meat are at risk of becoming infected with Trichinella and therefore may pose a public health risk to consumers. Among domestic livestock, pigs are most commonly associated with Trichinella infection, but human outbreaks have also resulted from horsemeat, wild boar, bear, walrus and other wild animals. For animals that are not produced under controlled management conditions and for wild animals, specific steps should be taken to prevent human exposure to Trichinella. These steps include appropriate testing of individual carcasses to identify those that pose a public health risk, post-slaughter processing to inactivate Trichinella in meat that might be infected, and education of consumers regarding the need for proper preparation methods for meat that might contain Trichinella larvae. The International Commission on Trichinellosis (ITC) recognizes three (3) acceptable means of treatment to render potentially Trichinella-infected meats safe for consumption: 1) cooking, 2) freezing (for meat from domestic pigs), and 3) irradiation. Consumers should be informed by public health authorities of the risk, and educated in proper meat preparation. Acceptable methods for consumer preparation of meats, which may reduce the public health risk, include cooking to an internal temperature between 145° F (63° C) and 160° F (71° C), followed by a 3-minute rest. Additionally, freezing of meat from domestic pigs to the minimum times and temperatures listed, though freezing is not effective for all species of Trichinella such as T. nativa and T. britovi and therefore should be used with caution when treating meat from susceptible wild animals, free-ranging and backyard pigs. The ICT considers irradiation, at levels proven to inactivate Trichinella larvae (0.3 kGy), to be an acceptable method for rendering meat safe for human consumption. Irradiation is recommended only for sealed packaged foods. Methods that are not reliable for inactivating Trichinella in meats include cooking using microwaves, curing by methods that have not been validated, salting, drying, or smoking. Education of hunters and others for proper preparation of game meats should follow the same recommendations issued to consumers.

Technical Abstract: Human trichinellosis is acquired by ingestion of uncooked or undercooked meat containing Trichinella larvae. Domestic and wild animals which consume meat are at risk of becoming infected and therefore may pose a public health risk to consumers. Among domestic livestock, pigs are most commonly associated with Trichinella infection. Since 1975, horses have also been recognized as a source of human trichinellosis where horsemeat is consumed raw or not adequately cooked. Many types of wild animals can harbor Trichinella, and human outbreaks have been attributed to numerous animal species, notably, wild boar, bear, and walrus, among others. For livestock produced under conditions of controlled management, the risk of exposure to Trichinella is negligible. For animals that are not produced under controlled management conditions and for wild animals, specific steps should be taken to prevent human exposure to Trichinella. These steps include appropriate testing of individual carcasses to identify those that pose a public health risk, post-slaughter processing to inactivate Trichinella in meat that might be infected, and education of consumers regarding the need for proper preparation methods for meat that might contain Trichinella larvae.