What temperature should pork be cooked?
Most of us probably grew up knowing the rule that pork needed to be cooked to a higher temperature than any other meat. I remember being told that I would get trichinosis if it was undercooked, and though I had no idea what that meant, it conjured up horrible images. That being said, I was also taught not to eat shoe leather, so I have always heated it to 150 degrees.
Everything changed today when the US Department of Agriculture announced that it has lowered its temperature recommendation for cooking pork to 145 °F.
Can Safely Cooked Pork Be Pink?
Cooked muscle meats can be pink even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. If fresh pork has reached 145 °F throughout, even though it may still be pink in the center, it should be safe. The pink color can be due to the cooking method or added ingredients.
The new requirements call for leaving the meat to rest for “at least 3 minutes” before carving, but most home cooks already know that. Ground pork should still be cooked to 160 °F. One other note,
Never brown or partially cook pork, then refrigerate and finish cooking later, because any bacteria present won’t be destroyed. It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave pork immediately before transferring it to the hot grill to finish cooking.
I was once in the kitchen at a catering gig where the chef was doing exactly that – pre-cooking all the meat half-way to finish later. Ugh. Fortunately, the final cutlets as plated were so vulcanized¹ they were only good for patching tires, and no one ate them anyway. Memories.
The USDA pork page is actually kind of interesting. You can read all the updated rules here.
¹Yes, I am so old I have patched the rubber inner-tubes of car tires via the vulcanization process. Pieces of old pork work well.
I wonder if that will be enough to stop the elitist on the food network from crying ” you could have killed me” every time they get served pink pork.
Or any cooking show Kitchen nightmares, Top Chef,Copped…..
Food Dude says
Doubtful – that wouldn’t make good tv!
The FDA Model Food Code has recommended 145F for pork for years (and recommends 155F for ground pork). I never realized the USDA FSIS had its own separate set of recommendations.
Thank God! I would have died years ago.
Greg Dennis says
Mmm. Pork tartare. Which restaurant will be brave enough to offer it first?
John Moreno says
Yes, cooking to an internal temperature of 160ºF will kill parasites in pork but so will cooking it to 160ºC. The FDA recommends that food processors cook pork to 120ºF for 21 hours (ham curing). As for other methods 130ºF will kill parasites in 112 minutes, 140ºF in 5 minutes (less than your rest time for a pork loin), and 144ºF kills foodborne pathogens in a second; one second.
Pork processing has come a long way since the 1940’s and US producers supply stores with meat that can be cooked using the same guidelines as lamb. If you don’t know the source of your pork you are still good cooking it to an internal temp of 150º (medium) for five minutes.
See this Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/26/cooking-pork-safely-the-science