For the first time in history in the U.S., pork consumption is not the leading cause of human cases of trichinosis, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Wild game meat was the most common source of infection during 1997-2001, for which data was just released.

During this five-year period, 72 cases were reported to the federal agency. Of these, 31 or 43% were linked to eating wild game. In comparison, only 12 cases (17%) were associated with eating commercial pork products, including four cases traced to a foreign source.

Nine other cases were associated with eating non-commercial pork products from home-raised or direct-from-farm sales where industry standards and regulations don’t apply.

The CDC credits changes in animal husbandry and feeding practices for virtually eliminating trichinae from the pork supply. A voluntary Trichinae Herd Certification Program developed by industry and government provides documentation of swine management practices to minimize exposure to trichinae. The program’s goal is to establish a system through which hog operations following good production practices might be certified as trichinae-safe.

Improved pork processing methods and regulations have also contributed to the decline in trichinae cases due to pork.