Why You Might Want To Rethink Buying Raw Pork At Walmart

Walmart is a good place to shop if you're seeking affordable grocery staples, but not everything at the store is up to par. Take the grocery chain's raw pork products, for instance. Once included in the list of meats you shouldn't buy from Walmart, raw pork and other types of meat from the chain are problematic for a simple reason: Many locations do not employ meat cutters. Instead, they provide meat that is processed and packaged elsewhere and shipped to the stores.

While it's true that grocery stores like Walmart have much to offer when it comes to convenience and affordability, a lack of butchers and meat cutters is bound to impact quality. Quality is especially important when purchasing raw pork, which can harbor hazardous viruses, bacteria, and even parasites. While these issues can also result when buying raw pork from a butcher shop, having knowledgeable meat cutters on site can be more reassuring for consumers. And also consider the fact that Walmart has encountered issues with pork products in the past.

Problematic antibiotic use in Walmart pork

As reported by Newsweek, bacteria found in Walmart pork products in 2019 exhibited a resistance to antibiotics. These so-called "superbugs" did not respond to treatment with antibiotics, which posed a significant safety issue to consumers. Many farm animals receive antibiotics to prevent infections, which can cause bacteria to build resistance to the medication. And while laws have been imposed limiting the use of antibiotics in American farms, they're still used frequently in situations where animals live in subpar environments.

According to Walmart in a statement to Newsweek, the chain provides customers with "fresh pork from animals raised under the standards of the National Pork Board's (NPB's) Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus Program." Additionally, Walmart stated that its private label food brands, which are goods that are manufactured exclusively for the chain, must meet the standards instituted by the Global Food Safety Initiative, an organization that manages food safety standards for businesses and manufacturers. While Walmart appears to be taking a proactive approach to ensure a safe supply of pork and other meat at its stores, consumers are on their own when it comes to assessing the chain's raw pork products due to the lack of butchers.

Things to watch out for when buying raw pork

If you're buying pork from Walmart, there are a few signs to watch out for to avoid an unpleasant bout of food poisoning. The color of the meat is the first thing to consider, as healthy pork will be a vibrant pinkish shade, as opposed to a pale color. When it comes to the fat on the meat, it should be uniformly white with no darkly colored spots. Bad pork will also have a little something extra in the package, namely liquid or slime. 

It can even take on a gluey texture, which indicates that bacteria have had their way with the cut of meat. Bacteria can also cause the package containing the pork to expand, which is due to the gases they generate. Keep in mind that these issues can impact raw pork at a variety of food retailers — they're not exclusive to Walmart. However, the presence of meat-cutting personnel would offer peace of mind, as they have the training to identify issues well before meat makes its way into the display case.