Last modified on December 8, 2019, at 00:03


For the political term, see pork-barrel legislation

Uncooked pork chops

Pork is the meat of a pig and is eaten throughout the world. It is sometimes known as the other white meat, the main white meat being poultry. This was largely a marketing ploy during the 1980s; the USDA considers pork to be, in fact, a "red meat".[1] Pork is eaten both as a cooked fresh meat (e.g. pork chops) and as a cured or processed meat, such as ham, salami, gammon or bacon. The pig may be used in many different ways for fresh meat cuts, with the popularity of certain cuts depending on local preference. Most of the animal (colloquially "everything but the squeal") can be used to produce fresh meat. In the case of a suckling pig (piglet) the whole body can be spit roasted or oven roasted.

Nutritional information

As part of a healthy diet, pork provides:

  • Protein necessary for growth and an important constituent of a balanced, healthy diet
  • Minerals, particularly iron and zinc.
  • D and B vitamins, including B12 which is not found in foods of plant origin.
  • Thiamin
  • Omega 3 fatty acids which are thought to protect against heart disease

The fat content of pork has decreased by over a third on average in the past 20 years, and fully trimmed pork contains as little as 4% fat, compared to 5% for beef and 8% for lamb. Over 40% of this fat is monounsaturated.

Pork Cuts

American Pork Cuts

Terminology for different cuts of pork varies by country. The American naming system is:

Head - Boiled to make brawn, stocks and soups.
Spare Rib Roast - Either boned out and rolled up as a roasting joint, or cured as bacon.
Hand - Either cured on the bone to make a ham, or used in sausages.
Loin - This can be cured to give bacon or divided up into roasting joints and pork chops.
Chump - Similar to loin, chump comes in the form of chops and steaks.
Belly - Belly pork is used for steaks or diced as a frying meat. Belly pork may be rolled for roasting or cut for streaky bacon.
Shoulder - The shoulder joint of pork can be bought as smaller cuts or as a whole roasting joint. It is also used for diced cubes to make casseroles as well as being minced and made into sausages.
Legs/hams - Although any cut of pork can be cured, only the back leg is entitled to be called a ham. Ham is cured to preserve it either by dry curing with salt or wet-curing using brine (salt solution).
Trotters - Both the front and hind trotters can be cooked and eaten or preserved by pickling.
Pork ribs - Called spare ribs, these are taken from the pig's ribcage and include the surrounding meat.


Bacon refers to those cuts of meat taken from the sides, belly or back which are cured or smoked. The main cuts of bacon are back bacon, streaky bacon and middle bacon. Bacon can be supplied as bacon chops, but more commonly is served as thinly-sliced 'rashers', cooked by grilling or frying and often eaten for breakfast. Bacon is also used as an ingredient in more elaborate dishes: boiled, with cabbage, in Ireland, or an ingredient in dishes such as Pasta Amatriciana in Italy.

Bacon is high in saturated fat and cholesterol; it is unhealthy and can cause health problems if one consumes large quantities of it.

Processed pork

Pork is particularly common as an ingredient in sausages. Ham, bacon and gammon are made by curing the meat with salt. Smoking the meat in a slow oven is another method of preservation. Ham and bacon are popular foods in the western world although non-western cultures also use preserved pork products. Salted pork or red roasted pork is used in Chinese cuisine.

Additionally, parts of the pig such as the knuckle and feet can be pickled and eaten. The skin and fat is often crisped up in an oven and eaten with a pork roast as "crackling" or as a savoury snack (pork scratchings). Black Pudding which is made from the blood, can also be made thus utilizing almost all of the animal.

Despite the name, hamburgers contain beef, not pork as they are named after the German city of Hamburg.

The canned meat, Spam, is made of pork.

Religious beliefs and prohibitions on eating pork

See also: Atheists and pork consumption

Orthodox Jews and Muslims consider pork to be an unclean meat that should not be eaten, as taught by Leviticus 11:2-8:

Of all land animals these are the ones you may eat: any animal that has hoofs you may eat, provided it is cloven-footed and chews the cud. But you shall not eat any of the following that only chew the cud or only have hoofs...the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you.

However, Christians believe that they may eat any meat, as it is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth (Matthew 15:11 ).


In England, a "pork pie" or "porkie" is slang for a lie.

Health risks of eating pork

External links


  1. USDA: Safety of Fresh Pork...from Farm to Table