The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced this week that it has lowered its recommended minimum cooking temperature for pork to 145°F—the same level as recommended for beef, veal and lamb.
A juicy pork chop with some pink in the middle has finally been given the official okay by the USDA.
Previously the agency recommended that pork be cooked to 165 degrees, same as poultry.
For professional chefs, the 145 degree number has been common practice. Cooking to 165 degrees can leave pork dry and rob it of flavor. But backyard chefs may take longer to adjust, remembering warnings about trichinosis from parents or grandparents.
Restaurants, regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have been working under the 145 degree guideline for ten years, noted Ceci Snyder, vice president of marketing for the National Pork Board.
In addition to its reduced temperature recommendation, the USDA suggests letting pork rest for 3 minutes after removing it from the grill or oven. The meat’s temperature will remain the same, or may rise slightly during that time.
“With a single temperature for all whole cuts of meat and uniform 3-minute stand time, we feel it will be much easier for consumers to remember and result in safer food preparation,” USDA Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen said in a statement.
The USDA still recommends cooking ground meats to 160 degrees, so a medium rare pork burger is still a no-no.
But a sizzling and juicy medium rare pork tenderloin or thick pork chop is starting to sound really good right about now. Think I’ll fire up the grill tonight.
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