I suspect that the pork sold at a certain shop is infected with the parasite pork tapeworm (Taenia solium).

Is there a way I can prove this without special equipment? Would it work to leave the raw meat in the fridge (at 4 degrees Celcius, or higher?) for a week or so and the worms will come out of their eggs and grow big enough for the eye?


1 Answer 1


Short answer
T. solium infection can be identified in pork meat by visual inspection.

The stage of the life cycle of the tape worm T. solium in pigs is characterized by cysticerci, which is the larval stage consisting of a protoscolex (head) of the tapeworm. Humans are the definitive host, which means they are the species in which the parasite completes its life cycle, reaches adulthood and is able to produce eggs.

The larvae are observable in pork meat, and cysticercosis is generally identified during slaughter when cysts can be seen in muscle or organs (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. T. solium cysticerci. (A): as seen in infected pork. (B): excised into a Petri dish. The white dot in each cyst corresponds to the scolex. Source: Garcia et al. (2011)

It is not until these cysticerci are ingested by humans that the tape worm starts to develop fully into a meters-long tape worm, as it enters the next and final stage of its life cycle (Fig. 2).

Taenia life cycle
Fig. 2. Taenia life cycle. Source: CDC

Hence, leaving the meat in the fridge will not induce growth, as a human is needed to induce outgrowth of the protoscolex into the mature tape worm.

Garcia et al., Lancet (2011): 362 (9383): 547–56


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