The New York Times may have appended its recent op-ed piece on how small farm pork may be more prone to contamination than its industrially raised counterpart, but readers haven’t quite yet recovered from the episode. And neither has the op-ed’s author.
James McWilliams cited a study in the article that, as it turns out, was funded by the National Pork Board, and has since “endured a wallop of criticism,” he says in an Atlantic Food Channel piece defending his position. “The condemnation scans the spectrum of civility,” he adds. “A butcher in Iowa has offered to remove my testicles.”
His response to the issue of the study’s funding? “It’s very difficult for scientists to undertake large studies without industry funding.”
But he does concede that he may have erred in his claim that the pigs in the study tested positive for trichinella, salmonella, and toxoplasma. They actually tested seropositive: “I know full well the difference between testing positive for a pathogen and testing positive for the antibodies of that pathogen. You can test positive for the antibodies of a disease and still not have it. It’s very unlikely, but possible.”
And, no, he’s not in on some seedy Big Pork propaganda ploy. He’s a vegetarian. Still, we’ll probably keep taking our chances on locally and sustainably raised pigs.