A viral YouTube video has been making the rounds that encourages people to pour Coca-Cola or Pepsi on their uncooked pork to rid it of worms or other parasites. While social media is a treasure trove of weird facts and life hacks, the key to not falling for viral misinformation is to stay skeptical of anything you come across online. Here’s how you could fact-check this claim.
Look for red flags within the video
While the person in the clip demonstrates this happening for the camera, and points to what looks like little white worms popping out of the pork chop, a couple things stand out.
For one, the video is of lower quality, so it’s unclear what the white specs seen on camera are.
And we don’t see what happens to the meat right before the camera starts rolling. For all we know, the pork could’ve been sitting outside in the heat instead of coming straight out of the package from the refrigerator.
Try a keyword search
Doing a search with words like “pork pepsi parasites” brought up several results, including fact checks from USA Today and Snopes.
According to USA Today, this claim is a myth that’s been debunked time and time again. However, it does come with a small element of truth. There is a disease known as trichinosis that is caused by a species of roundworms (called trichinella). It’s contracted through consuming raw or undercooked meat from an animal that’s infected with parasites.
However, USA Today reported that not only is trichinosis rare, but these types of worms are microscopic. So even if these worms were more prevalent in meat, you wouldn’t be able to see them just by pouring Coke or Pepsi on them.
Similar to USA Today, Snopes rated this one False, reporting that pork products sold on the consumer market are pretty reliably worm-free. To be sure, Snopes did the Coke challenge themselves and shared some before and after pics. They didn’t come across any worms.
What’s a zombie claim?
While this video went viral recently, both articles pointed out that this is a pretty old legend. In the media literacy world, we call these zombie claims. Zombie claims are pieces of misinformation that no matter how many times fact-checkers debunk them, they still come back from the dead to haunt us. It’s a good reminder that it never hurts to do a keyword search before sharing. You could be looking at a claim that’s been debunked countless times.
Not Legit. While there is a disease known as trichinosis that can make you sick from eating raw or undercooked meat from an animal infected with the parasite, it’s pretty rare. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the easiest way to prevent this is NOT by pouring Pepsi on your uncooked meat, but to cook it to a safe temperature. Further, drenching your pork chop in Coke or Pepsi products won’t make these parasites exit your meat.