Raw or Undercooked Pork: Risks and Side Effects to Know (2023)

Though raw pork dishes exist in some cultures, eating raw or undercooked pork is risky business that can yield serious and unpleasant side effects.

Some foods, like certain fish and seafood, can be enjoyed raw when prepared safely — though pork is definitely not one of these foods.

This article explores the risks and side effects of consuming raw or undercooked pork, and provides some tips to keep you healthy.

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Unlike steak, which can be eaten without being fully brown on the inside, pork that’s bloody (or rare) on the inside should not be consumed.

This is because pork meat, which comes from pigs, is prone to certain bacteria and parasites that are killed in the cooking process.

Thus, when pork isn’t cooked through to its proper temperature, there’s a risk that those bacteria and parasites will survive and be consumed. This can make you very sick.

One parasite found in pork is Trichinella spiralis, a roundworm which causes an infection called trichinosis, also known as trichinellosis. Other animals, like wolves, boars, bears, and walruses, can also be carriers of this roundworm (1, 2).

What’s more, eating rare or raw pork also puts you at risk of certain tapeworms, Taenia solium or Taenia asiatica, entering your digestive tract and reproducing. These lead to infections, like taeniasis or cysticercosis (3, 4).

Thus, eating rare or undercooked pork is not considered safe.

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To diminish the risk of developing these infections, you should always cook your pork to the appropriate temperature.


Eating raw or undercooked pork can make you very sick and put you at risk for parasites like roundworm or tapeworms. These are typically killed in the cooking process — which is why it’s crucial to cook your pork thoroughly.

Symptoms of trichinosis can emerge within 1 to 2 days of consuming the contaminated, undercooked pork — but may not show for up to a week after ingestion (5).

Once the larvae enter your digestive system and begin to reproduce on days 5 to 7, you may experience gastrointestinal upset, with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and abdominal cramps (5).

Then, a week to several weeks after ingestion, the larvae begin to burrow themselves into muscle and intestinal walls.

In this phase, symptoms like a high fever, muscle ache, light sensitivity, eye infections, facial swelling, rashes, headaches, and chills are common (5).

Trichinosis can sometimes lead to more serious complications, affecting the heart or the brain. While these complications are rare, they can be fatal. With adequate medical treatment, most will recover from trichinosis in about 8 weeks (5).

On the other hand, tapeworm-related infections like taeniasis or cysticercosis are a bit trickier to diagnose as tapeworms don’t cause immediate symptoms and often go unrecognized.

Tapeworms can be detected about 2 to 3 months after ingestion of contaminated meat by means of a series of stool samples.

If symptoms of taeniasis do develop, they usually include:

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  • unexplained weight loss
  • digestive problems
  • pain
  • irritation around the anal area
  • blockage of the intestine

However, if you suddenly experience seizures, this is one of the symptoms of cysticercosis. This means the tapeworm has traveled to other areas of the body like the brain, eye, or heart (4).

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, seek prompt medical attention.

High risk populations

Those with a compromised immune system should be especially vigilant about following food safety guidelines and cooking pork to an appropriate temperature.

This includes those who are pregnant, undergoing cancer therapy, or on certain medications which suppress the immune system.

Additionally, people living with HIV, AIDS, diabetes, or those who have received an organ transplant should be especially careful about where their food is coming from and that it’s being properly prepared.


Symptoms of trichinosis can include nausea, abdominal cramps, and, later, muscle pains, facial swelling, and high fevers. Tapeworms may not cause symptoms but can still make you sick and even cause sudden seizures.

Due to improved agricultural practices in the United States, Canada, and Europe in the last several decades, developing trichinosis has become rare (5, 6).

In fact, from 2011–2015, an average of 16 cases of trichinosis were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States each year (6,7).

Worldwide trichinosis estimates are much greater — at 10,000 cases each year — most stemming from China and Southeast Asian or Eastern European countries (5, 6).

Pork-related tapeworm cases are harder to discern, but globally it’s estimated that 28,000 deaths per year can be attributed to these parasites (4).

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However, it’s worth keeping in mind that practices in the United States are still evolving.

On October 1, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would reduce the number of its inspectors on site and allow pork manufacturers to inspect their pork products themselves. These measures went into effect just 2 months later (8).

Previously, only government inspectors could determine which pork products looked safe enough to be sold to the public (8).

While it’s too soon to understand the effect of this key change, it could represent less oversight. Therefore, thoroughly cooking your pork remains crucial.


Changes to agricultural practices over past decades in the United States have made pork safer to eat. However, these have recently changed, allowing for less oversight. Either way, it’s still important to avoid eating undercooked pork.

You won’t be able to tell if your pork is infected with Trichinella spirals or pork tapeworms just by looking at it, since these larvae are microscopic in size. Therefore, the best defense against trichinosis is cooking your pork thoroughly.

Trichinae is killed at 137°F (58°C), while tapeworm eggs and larvae are killed between 122–149°F (50–65°C) (5, 9, 10).

One study found that pork tapeworm eggs and larvae could be killed at a lower temperature of 122°F (50°C) for roasts that bake over 15–20 minutes, but higher temperatures of over 149°F (65°C) were needed for dishes with ground pork mixes (9, 10).

In the United States, experts recommend cooking pork until its internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C) for chops, steaks, and loins. For ground pork, organ meats, or ground meat mixes, cook to at least 160°F (71°C) (11).

Whether it’s a loin or ground pork, you should let the meat rest for 3 minutes before consuming. This allows the meat to continue to cook and rise in temperature.

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When cooked to 145°F (63°C), you may notice the white meat has a hint of pink as you slice into it. According to the revised guidelines from the USDA, this is acceptable.

You should use a calibrated thermometer to take the temperature of your meats, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Proper food handling is also really important. This means that handwashing is imperative while you cook, as is using clean drinking water to wash off cutting surfaces, dishes, or utensils.

You can learn other safety tips for handling food at the USDA’s site.


Cooking your pork to a safe temperature is crucial to avoid infection. While pork loins, chops, and steaks should be cooked to 145°F (63°C), ground pork should reach at least 160°F (71°C). Allow your meat to rest 3 minutes before eating.

Eating raw or undercooked pork is not a good idea. The meat can harbor parasites, like roundworms or tapeworms.

These can cause foodborne illnesses like trichinosis or taeniasis. While rare, trichinosis can lead to serious complications that are sometimes fatal. Those with compromised immune systems should be especially careful.

Although improvements in agricultural practices have made certain infections less likely, it’s still advisable to practice proper food handling and cook your pork to a recommended temperature.

In this way, you can cook pork that isn’t only delicious but safe to eat.


What are the risks of undercooked pork? ›

Raw meat can carry bacteria which cause food poisoning and, accordingly, eating undercooked pork or chicken may result in food poisoning. If you experience symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever after eating undercooked meat, seek a diagnosis from a medical institution immediately.

Is an infection caused most often by eating raw or undercooked pork? ›

Yersiniosis is an infection caused most often by eating raw or undercooked pork contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria. CDC estimates Y. enterocolitica causes almost 117,000 illnesses, 640 hospitalizations, and 35 deaths in the United States every year.

What are the side effects of pork meat? ›

Undercooked pork can transmit Yersinia bacteria, causing short-term illness and raising the risk of reactive arthritis, chronic joint conditions, Graves' disease and other complications.

How do you know if pork is undercooked? ›

One way to determine your porks' doneness is by the color of the juices that come out of it when you poke a hole in it with a knife or fork. If the juices run clear or are very faintly pink, the pork is done cooking. If they're mostly or entirely pink or red, it's best to continue cooking.

Can you get sick if pork is a little pink? ›

There is a common misconception that pork can only be cooked to a dry husk in order to be safe. This can lead people to believe that if they see pink, the meat must not be safe to eat. However, this isn't true at all! Pork can be cooked pink and still be safe for consumption.

What are 5 signs and symptoms of trichinosis? ›

Headaches, fevers, chills, cough, swelling of the face and eyes, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, diarrhea, or constipation may follow the first symptoms.

What is the cure for trichinosis? ›

Trichinosis is treated with anti-parasitic drugs, and can be fatal if severe cases are not treated. There is no treatment once the larvae embed in the muscles, pain relievers can help.

Can you cook all the bacteria out of pork? ›

Chicken, Beef, Pork, and Turkey

Thoroughly cooking chicken, poultry products, and meat destroys germs.

Does pork affect your health? ›

Red meat (such as beef, lamb and pork) can form part of a healthy diet. But eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer.

What are the health benefits and risks of pork? ›

It's a rich source of high-quality protein, as well as various vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it may improve exercise performance and promote muscle growth and maintenance. On the negative side, consumption of both undercooked and overcooked pork should be avoided.

Can pork still be pink in the middle? ›

That color doesn't indicate anything nefarious—at 145°F, your pork is at a “medium rare” temperature. You would expect to see some pink in a medium rare steak, so don't be surprised to find it in your pork chops! If the pink color freaks you out, you can continue cooking it until it reaches 155°F.

Is a little red in pork OK? ›

A Little Pink Is OK: USDA Revises Cooking Temperature For Pork : The Two-Way The U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered the recommended cooking temperature of pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. That, it says, may leave some pork looking pink, but the meat is still safe to eat.

What kind of food poisoning comes from pork? ›

Trichinellosis, more commonly known as trichinosis, is a parasitic food-borne disease that is caused by eating raw or undercooked meats, particularly pork products infested with the larvae of a type of roundworm called Trichinella.

Will medium-rare pork make you sick? ›

Rare pork is undercooked. Both uncooked or raw pork and undercooked pork are unsafe to eat. Meat sometimes has bacteria and parasites that can make you sick. Thorough cooking kills any germs that might be present.

How do you get rid of trichinosis at home? ›

There's aren't any proven home treatments for trichomoniasis. Plus, this STI often doesn't cause symptoms, so it's hard to gauge whether home treatments are effective. It's best to err on the side of caution and see a healthcare provider for any potential STIs.

Can you recover from trichinosis? ›

Trichinosis usually gets better on its own. In cases with a mild or moderate number of larvae, most signs and symptoms typically go away within a few months. However, fatigue, mild pain, weakness and diarrhea may stay for many months or years.

Does trichinosis affect the brain? ›

The worms invade muscle tissues, including the heart and diaphragm (the breathing muscle under the lungs). They can also infect the lungs and brain. The cysts remain alive for years.

What are the stages of trichinosis? ›

Symptoms of trichinosis occur in two stages. Stage 1: Intestinal infection develops 1 to 2 days after eating contaminated meat. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and a slight fever. Stage 2: Symptoms from the larval invasion of muscles usually start after about 7 to 15 days.

How common is trichinosis in pork? ›

Over the past 40 years, few cases of trichinellosis have been reported in the United States, and the risk of trichinellosis from commercially raised and properly prepared pork is very low. However, eating undercooked wild game, particularly bear meat, puts one at risk for acquiring this disease.

What temperature kills all bacteria in pork? ›

Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality—juicy and tender.

What temperature kills bacteria in pork? ›

Cooking pork thoroughly can eliminate the risk of infection. The meat should be cooked to temperatures of 145–160°F (63–71°C) and allowed to rest for at least 3 minutes before eating.

Does pork cause high blood pressure? ›

Another study showed that red meat is connected to the development of hypertension, and is in the group of foods that raise blood pressure quickly. That means omitting chicken, beef, veal, pork, venison, and lamb is necessary for a healthy diet.

What meat is the healthiest? ›

5 of the Healthiest Meats
  1. Sirloin Steak. Sirloin steak is both lean and flavorful – just 3 ounces packs about 25 grams of filling protein! ...
  2. Rotisserie Chicken & Turkey. The rotisserie cooking method helps maximize flavor without relying on unhealthy additives. ...
  3. Chicken Thigh. ...
  4. Pork Chop. ...
  5. Canned Fish.
Jan 6, 2020

Is pork worse for you than chicken? ›

Lean pork is every bit as good for your body as lean beef and chicken. In one study, substituting lean pork for beef and chicken led to less body fat and better heart health.

Does pork have a lot of toxins? ›

Pigs have a metabolism very similar to ours and, thus, can cleanse themselves internally so to speak as we do. Pork is wholesome and you can be assured that it does not contain some mythical buildup of toxins. You can go ahead and enjoy that next great pork meal with no qualms.

What does the Bible say about pork? ›

It is only in Leviticus 11:7 that eating pork is forbidden to God's people for the very first time—“… and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.” This is where and when pork in all its forms (including ham, bacon, sausage, etc.)

What is the unhealthiest meat? ›

Cured meats, cold cuts, salami, and hot dogs are just a few examples of processed meats to limit or avoid. Scientific consensus confirms that eating large amounts of these processed meats will raise your risk of colon cancer. These meats are often high in both sodium and saturated fats, Malkani says.

Is it OK to eat pink pork? ›

In short, yes! We used to be afraid of pink pork because of a parasite known as trichinosis, but the risk of contracting it is virtually nonexistent these days. Like beef, pork temperatures are designed to cook the meat long enough to nix E. coli, which means it may have a little color in the middle.

Is it safe to eat pork medium rare? ›

Long gone are the days when pork was routinely overcooked in order to avoid the food-borne illness trichinosis. For many years, nutritionists--and the USDA--have recommended cooking the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of about 160°F, or medium, which can result in slightly pink meat.

Can dogs have pork? ›

Plain, cooked pork is safe for dogs to eat, as long as you keep it simple and leave off the bells and whistles people tend to cook with. Seasonings and spice rubs that contain the following ingredients are extremely dangerous because they are highly toxic to dogs if ingested: Onion powder.

What color should pork be when cooked? ›

The typical doneness levels of beef (rare, medium rare, medium, and well) are evaluated by cooked color (AMSA, 1995). Such guidelines have not been established in pork products. While beef follows a red to pink to brown pattern as it is heated, pork turns from pinkish-red to less pink to tan or white.

Does pork need to be well done? ›

Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality—juicy and tender.


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