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Author Topic: Trichinosis in bear meat  (Read 1577 times)

Offline bullfisher

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Trichinosis in bear meat
« on: February 28, 2018, 06:05:26 AM »
Figured I'd see a PSA in here or a sticky about it. It's a no brainer for most, but there's always someone who wants their bear meat cooked med rare.
Here's a reminder for our season to come, and a good write up from our buddy Steve Rinella  :tup:

by Steven Rinella

Bear meat is highly edible and can be quite delicious depending on what the bearís been eating and how itís been handled. But before you start messing around with bear meat you need to consider the risk of trichinosis. Itís a disease caused by infection of larvae from a type of parasitic round worm known as Trichina spiralis. The worm is the reason why youíre traditionally supposed to cook your pork to well done, though trichinosis has been largely eradicated from domestic pork. Nowadays, over 90% of U.S. trichinosis cases are attributable to bear meat, though even that number is relatively small and usually includes far fewer people than your average high school classroom. Other known vectors of the disease in recent decades have included mountain lion, wild boar, and even walrus.

Animals contract trichinosis in the same way that humans do, through the consumption of flesh that is infected with  the worms. Domestic pork used to carry trichinosis largely because of the practice of feeding them uncooked garbage; rats and mice in the garbage were consumed raw along with the trash and the rodents passed along the disease. In 1980, uncooked garbage was banned as pork feed; since then, cases of trichinosis in pork have all but vanished.

Bears, obviously, have not gotten this memo. They still eat whatever they please. In many areas, itís basically just a matter of time before an individual bear eats something and picks up the worm. In Montanaís Lincoln and Sanders Counties, 100% of bears over six years of age have tested positive for the parasite.

The first bear I ever killed, well over a decade ago, was an eighteen-year-old bruiser from Lincoln County. I cut out an ounce or so of his tongue and sent it for testing at Montana State University in Bozeman. Sure enough, the test results came back positive. The state informed me that I was excused from the wanton waste laws, which require that all bear meat be salvaged and used. However, I was ineligible for a new bear license.


By then Iíd already processed the meat and had 87 pounds of ground burger and close to 60 pounds of steaks and roasts. A basic survey of literature on the disease suggested that the parasite was very easy to kill with thorough cooking. An internal temperature of 137 degrees Fahrenheit is all it takes, though obviously you want to go a little hotter to make sure. Also, there is strong evidenceĖthough not official government endorsmentĖ to support the conclusion that freezing infected meat for a month at a temperature lower than 5 degrees will kill it.

So I went ahead and bought a trusty meat thermometer and started eating bear burgers and bear steaks. Obviously, Iím still alive. Now, I donít even bother testing my bear meat. The results are not going to alter my behavior, no matter what they are. Iíll still eat my bear meat, cooked to a medium doneness. And even if you contract trichinosis, it doesnít mean youíve had your last bear hunt. Early symptoms, if any, include muscle fatigue, diarrhea, heartburn, and fatigue. If you catch it early, itís easily treated. So go ahead and eat that bear meat in your freezer. Youíve got no excuse to let it sit in your freezer until itís freezer burned.  Remember: you kill it, you eat it.


« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 06:11:42 AM by bullfisher »

Offline kellama2001

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2018, 07:49:21 AM »
Always love reading Steven Rinella, thanks for the good info!  :tup:
Of what avail are 40 freedoms without a blank spot on the map?
-Aldo Leopold

Offline quadrafire

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2018, 07:57:25 AM »
Didn't he actually contract it from bear meat on one of his episodes?

Online ctwiggs1

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2018, 07:59:42 AM »
Didn't he actually contract it from bear meat on one of his episodes?

Yes.  He openly admits that he foolishly cooked a bear steak rare while hunting.  He and his camera crew were hospitalized.

Offline CaNINE

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2018, 08:23:04 AM »
He tells the story on one of his podcasts. They all got sick about a month later with severe flu like symptoms, extreme muscle aches. Started comparing symptoms and connected the dots. It took them a while to recover. Not something you want to play with that's for sure. I cook all my bear meat to 165 degrees F and verify with a meat thermometer in several locations.
The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

Proverbs 12:27

Online ctwiggs1

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2018, 08:24:38 AM »
He tells the story on one of his podcasts. They all got sick about a month later with severe flu like symptoms, extreme muscle aches. Started comparing symptoms and connected the dots. It took them a while to recover. Not something you want to play with that's for sure. I cook all my bear meat to 165 degrees F and verify with a meat thermometer in several locations.

I love your posts because I get to look at that massive WY bear.   :tup:

Offline Doublelunger

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2018, 08:42:59 AM »
Freezing just adds insurance. Any bear of mine will be in the freezer for 60 days before I consume it.

Offline CaNINE

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2018, 09:29:52 AM »
He tells the story on one of his podcasts. They all got sick about a month later with severe flu like symptoms, extreme muscle aches. Started comparing symptoms and connected the dots. It took them a while to recover. Not something you want to play with that's for sure. I cook all my bear meat to 165 degrees F and verify with a meat thermometer in several locations.

I love your posts because I get to look at that massive WY bear.   :tup:

thanks bud!  Can't wait to get that mount home - hopefully he fits through the door!
The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

Proverbs 12:27

Offline Oh Mah

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2018, 09:04:13 PM »
 i love the bear jerky and usually smoke up most of the meat but everything else goes straight into the pressure cooker.The meat so tender.

I just wish i had a real good canning recipe,i usually don't do anything to the meat when pressure cooking but eat it straight from the jar.it's good but adding something would just make it that much better.YOU HAVEN'T HAD A TACO UNTIL YOU HAVE HAD A CANNED BEAR TACO.  :tup:
"Boss of the woods"

Online 180-GRAIN

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2018, 09:23:24 AM »
I shot a 120lb sow 6-7 years ago and found 4-5 inch worms alive crawling around in its cavity and meat. I will admit I did not eat that meat. Was scared I would get this same sickness.

Offline 87Ford

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2018, 09:55:51 AM »
I shot a 120lb sow 6-7 years ago and found 4-5 inch worms alive crawling around in its cavity and meat. I will admit I did not eat that meat. Was scared I would get this same sickness.

I seem to recall that story..  Didn't you post about that back then with pics?

Offline magnanimous_j

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2018, 09:59:47 AM »
I shot a 120lb sow 6-7 years ago and found 4-5 inch worms alive crawling around in its cavity and meat. I will admit I did not eat that meat. Was scared I would get this same sickness.

 :puke:

As much fun as bear hunting looks, that's the reason I don't do it.

Offline TriggerMike

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2018, 10:32:16 AM »
Freezing just adds insurance. Any bear of mine will be in the freezer for 60 days before I consume it.

I've seen this before but unlike pork where you can kill trich by freezing, the strains of trich that infect bear meat does not die from freezing. No matter the temperature or duration.

Offline TriggerMike

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2018, 10:38:27 AM »
Trich dies at 137 degrees Fahrenheit but the issue people have is they don't cook EVERY SINGLE PORTION OF THE MEAT to at least 137 degrees. If you had an accurate thermometer and could ensure that the whole piece of meat was cooked to 140, you'd be fine and the meat wouldn't be overcooked. People have commonly been told to cook the meat to 165 degrees to allow for user error when measuring the meat temp and also for temperature discrepancy when using cheap or old thermometers. So basically, 165 degrees is way overkill if you can accurately measure the temp.

Offline DOUBLELUNG

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Re: Trichinosis in bear meat
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2018, 10:40:57 AM »
A former coworker, ex-Special Forces who used to get borrowed by the CIA for unknown purposes for months on end, contracted trichinosis from eating a feral hog one of his team snared "somewhere in Central America".  Obviously they failed to cook it adequately in their primitive jungle camp as he put it.

Not doubting Mr. Rinella, but I'm surprised there aren't more US cases annually attributable to eating feral hogs.  The ones I've had from California were insanely good, adequately cooked Cuban roast style.
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

 

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