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Good news for pork industry: Bacon is health foodPosted Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at 5:27 PM
I've got good news. Actually -- great news! Bacon is a health food.
According to a new study by Dr. Nathan Bryan of the University of Texas at the Houston Biomedical Research Center processed meats, like bacon, contain nitrates that prevent cardiovascular disease.
"Bon Appetit" magazine recently named bacon number one on their list of "Surprising Health Foods." According to the article, Jennifer McLagan, author of a book simply called "Fat," states "that 45 percent of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated, the good-for-you fat that can help lower bad cholesterol levels. Better still, bacon's monounsaturated fat turns out to be oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil. So that means that some could argue that bacon is about half as good for you as olive oil and about 100 times more delicious."
I knew all along -- really. After all how many of us knew or know of people who spent most of their lives eating bacon and eggs for breakfast and lived very long, very healthy lives.
This declaration for bacon couldn't have had better timing for the U.S. pork industry. Right now producers are losing over $20.60 per pig ($8.4 million a day) after prices dropped due to a lot of misinformation about the H1N1 virus, erroneously called the "swine flu" when it was first discovered.
The truth is pork is safe to eat, handle and does not pose a food safety threat, according to World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), along with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and several other groups.
The H1N1 virus is "different, very different from that found in pigs," according to a statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The OIE said the H1N1 influenza should never have been named "swine flu," and that there was no justification for the imposition of worldwide trade restrictions. Fortunately, most of those have now been lifted -- as the truth finally got out.
It also was erroneously reported that the first case came from a Smithfield Foods hog operation in Mexico. On May 14, tests showed the hogs there tested negative for the virus or any other virus.
The pork industry really didn't need any more bad publicity. They've been unfairly maligned for years and painted with a broad brush because of a few bad actors.
The truth is today's U.S. pork industry is set up to protect pig and food safety. "Bio-security" is a big word they talk about often. It means they take great measures to keep all diseases away from their hog herds. The fact that they are raised inside today is one way they keep such diseases out. Producers are careful not to visit other herds and they change boots and clothes often. I remember being shocked to see one hog farm that had shelf after shelf of new boots because they change them often as part of their bio-security precautions. Hog barns are also spaced a certain distance from each other to make sure viruses are not spread between neighboring farms.
Even though it has temporarily hurt the pork industry here in the U.S. I think it is more proof that we have the safest, most abundant and cheapest food supply in the world.
It's also the reason we need to continue to make sure our food supply is raised here in the United States.
After all, in the last 10 years worldwide agriculture has had problems with "Mad-Cow" disease and avian flu. However, while globally some farmers had to get rid of whole herds and flocks, we have had few actual cases of those diseases in U.S. raised animals.
That isn't by accident. It is because of the vigilance and care taken by American farmers and the USDA. Because of that we all benefit.
As consumers, especially in a community so dependent on agriculture, I hope you all go out and buy ham, pork chops, ribs, pork roast and of course bacon today -- we can't afford to lose any more American pork producers.
After all it is "the other white meat." And now we know for sure not only does it taste good -- it's good for you.
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