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Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Cooking Temperatures for Pork

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is updating its recommendation for safely cooking pork, steaks, roasts, and chops. USDA recommends cooking all whole cuts of meat to 145 °F.  Using a food thermometer place it in the thickest part of the meat, then allow the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or eating it.

This change does not apply to ground meats, including ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork. These foods which should be cooked to 160 °F and do not require a rest time. The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, remains at 165 °F.

Now there will only be 3 numbers to remember: 145ºF for whole meats, 160ºF for ground meats and 165ºF for all poultry.

A "rest time" is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens. This cooking suggestion allows the meat to be cooked to a safe temperature and served at its best quality and less likely to be “dry”.
Historically, consumers have viewed the color pink in pork to be a sign of undercooked meat. If raw pork is cooked to 145 °F and allowed to rest for three minutes, it may still be pink but is safe to eat. The pink color can be due to the cooking method, added ingredients, or other factors. As always, cured pork (e.g., cured ham and cured pork chops) will remain pink after cooking.

Appearance in meat is not a reliable indicator of safety or risk. Only by using a food thermometer can you determine if meat has reached a sufficient temperature. Any cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.