Last Call: Would you eat raw pork?

mett served on a bun
An open-faced onion and minced raw pork meat (called Mett, or Mettfleisch) in Berlin
Photo: Sean Gallup / Staff (Getty Images)
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I have a few friends who are professional butchers, which, now that I think about it, is a weird way to start a conversation. They’re talented at what they do, and during the pandemic they’ve been making meal kits to go, including dishes like steak tartare pre-cut into small cubes for you; the rest of the assembly is at home, where you’re given aioli to mix into the raw beef with garnishes on the side.

It occurred to me that while I am fine with the concept of raw beef at this point in my life, before I tried it for the first time, I’m sure I was a little squeamish at the thought. These days the idea of a steak tartare sounds delicious and I don’t bat an eye at it. But what about raw pork?

There’s a dish in Germany called mett, which is a carefully prepared raw minced pork. It comes seasoned and usually ready to eat straight from the butcher, and it’s made under strict guidelines to ensure the meat is safe to eat raw; precautions include keeping the meat at 35 degrees Fahrenheit at all times and only selling it the same day it’s prepared. While the idea of eating raw pork might give a lot of people pause, that’s probably due to concerns about trichinosis, a potentially lethal parasite that can be present in uncooked or undercooked meat. In modern times, however, this infection has become increasingly rare in pork. So, given the opportunity to eat some responsibly prepared mett, would you give it a shot?

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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DISCUSSION

In modern times, however, this infection has become increasingly rare in pork

That is because, in theory, modern pigs are raised in safe and healthy environments. These days, after four years of Trump lowering the health and safety regulations and inspection standards that is not a guarantee. Nor, with the increase in wild pigs in the US, can we be sure that all the pork hitting the mark was raised in a sanitary fashion as there have been a few documented cases of wild pig carcasses being sold to butchers.

So, no. I wouldn’t. Pork is on the verboten list of foods for jews and muslims for health reasons; and trichinosis is not the only one. Modern farming makes those reasons obsolete - but modern American lackadaisical safety practices means that raw pork brings all of them back as real possibilities.