Pork is a very prevalent food in our culture. The term refers to the meat from domesticated pigs. Animal husbandry, or the growing of livestock for food purposes, dates back to 5000 BC. Today, pork is the most common form of meat worldwide. From ham sandwiches to hot dogs and even our soup broths, pork is everywhere.

While it is a very accepted food, there are a few things that F&B professionals should know about pork before serving it at their events and culinary establishments.

Pork in Religion

There are several religions that prohibit their practitioners from eating pork – Judaism being one of them. The religious dietary restrictions guide regarding what can be consumed by practicing Jews is called kosher. Foods labeled kosher are prepared under strict guidelines to the entire supply chain, from harvest and slaughter to preparation, packaging, and food combinations. Pork and shellfish are famously not allowed.

Buddhists do not necessarily follow specific food guidelines, but their principle tenet is to do no harm. For that reason, lacto-vegetarianism is most common for Buddhists, which includes dairy and animal products, but does not allow meat. Theravada, a branch of Buddhism does allow pork, chicken, and fish if the animal was not slaughtered for consumption. Consumption ends up being the best way to respectfully utilize the entire animal after death.

Rastafarians have a preference for clean eating, so they abstain from most meats, especially pork.

Pork as an Allergy

The U.S. exports a lot of pork to other countries as well, and South Korea is the fifth largest pork market. However, the Korean Ministry for Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) includes pork in their mandatory allergy food labels. Allergens identified in the system are eggs, milk, buckwheat, peanuts, soybeans, wheat, mackerel, crab, shrimp, pork, peaches, tomatoes, sulfites, walnuts, chicken, beef, squid, and shellfish. These are the top 18 allergens in the country: something to keep in mind when serving pork at an event.

In the United States, allergy labeling is limited to these 8 top allergens: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that some of your guests may have a pork allergy or sensitivity and should be aware of a meal made with it.

Pork and the Environment

Many vegetarians and vegans choose not to eat pork for a variety of reasons, whether it’s respect for animals, food allergies, health reasons, or a focus on sustainability.

The meat food category has the highest carbon footprint and is the largest contributor to gas emissions than any other food. Most animals are raised in factory farms, which are significant polluters. It also takes different levels of resources to produce each type of meat.

That being said, pork is a lower-emission meat than beef and lamb. So by considering pork and poultry instead of beef and lamb, you’ll cast your vote for low emission meats. When possible, select local farms that do not factory farm and you’ll be optimizing your goal for low-emission meat.