How Common Is The Disease?
Trichinosis is a disease of man and other animals caused by a tiny parasitic worm, most commonly Trichinella spiralis. Humans and other animals may be infected by eating raw or undercooked meat of infected domestic pigs, wild bears, wild pigs, or other meat eating animals. In the past, trichinosis used to be more common and undercooked pork was usually the cause. Regulators took steps in the 1950's to control infection rates in domesticated pork which greatly reduced the incident rate. Now the disease is much less common with an average of 15 cases per year reported to the CDC from 2008 - 2012.1
Much of the improvement to domesticated pork comes from controlling their food sources but such management is not possible with wild boar because they are, well… wild. So, how common is trichinella infection in wild boar? It varies with one study showing a 5.7% infection rate and other showing 13%.2, 3 In Texas, however, a study sampling 226 wild boar found 0% infection rate!4 The most comprehensive study, performed by the USDA, sampled from 32 states found an average wild boar trichinella infection rate of 3%.5
All diagnosed cases of trichinosis are required to be reported to the CDC and there were 90 cases total reported from 2008 - 2012. Wild boar meat was the source of only 6 of those cases. Domesticated pork products infected 10 people - more than wild boar!6
How Can I Be Sure Wild Boar Meat Is Safe To Eat?
Cooking wild boar meat to an internal temperature of at least 140°F will make it safe from any potential trichinella.7 To provide a margin of safety, the USDA recommends the final temperature of cooked pork should reach 160°F. The internal temperature of meat cooked on a grill or in an oven will continue to rise 5-10° after cooking. If cooking a tender cut of wild boar, like a loin or a chop ready rack, it can be pulled off the heat at an internal temperature of 150°F. Cooking methods like hot smoking or braising will produce safe temperatures for cuts like stews and roasts.
Freezing wild boar meat is another way to help control safety. Any Trichinella spiralis present in wild boar pork is killed instantly when frozen to -10°F, within 8 minutes at -4°F, and within 4 days at 14°F.7 Here at Broken Arrow Ranch our practice is to keep wild boar cuts frozen at 14°F or less for a minimum of 20 days to ensure safety.
By understanding this potentially harmful organism and using good cooking practice, you can insure that you can safely enjoy the great flavor of truly wild boar.
1 https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/trichinellosis. September 9, 2018.
2 Ali ROSTAMI, Hooshang KHAZAN, Bahram KAZEMI, Eshrat Beigom KIA, Mojgan BANDEPOUR, Niloofar TAGHIPOUR, and Gholamreza MOWLAVI. "Prevalence of Trichinella spp. Infections in Hunted Wild Boars in Northern Iran." Iran J Public Health. 2017 Dec; 46(12): 1712-1719.
3 http://www.outdoorhub.com/how-to/2013/03/26/toxoplasmosis-trichinosis-feral-pigs-and-hunters/. September 9, 2018.
4 Gamble, H. Ray; Pozio, E.; Lichtenfels, J. Ralph; Zarlenga, D. S.; and Hill, D. E., "Trichinella pseudospiralis from a Wild Pig in Texas" (2005). Faculty Publications from the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology. 628. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/parasitologyfacpubs/628
5 Hill, D. E.; Dubey, J. P.; Baroch, J. A.; Swafford, S. R.; Fournet, V. F.; Hawkins-Cooper, D.; Pyburn, D. G.; Schmit, B. S.; Gamble, H. R.; Pedersen, K.; Ferreira, L. R.; Verma, S. K.; Ying, Y.; Kwok, O. C. H.; Feidas, H.; and Theodoropoulos, G., "Surveillance of feral swine for Trichinella spp. and Toxoplasmagondii in the USA and host-related factors associatedwith infection" (2014). USDA National Wildlife Research Center - Staff Publications. 1514. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/icwdm_usdanwrc/1514
6 Wilson, Nana O.; Hall, Rebecca L.; Montgomery, Susan P.; Jones, Jeffrey L. "Trichinellosis Surveillance - United States, 2008-2012." Surveillance Summaries. January 16, 2015 / 64(SS01);1-8. Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health.
7 Gamble, H.R. "Trichinae, Pork Facts - Food Quality and Safety." USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Parasite Biology and Epidemiology Laboratory. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/trichinae/docs/fact_sheet.htm. September 9, 2018.