The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently released new guidelines for cooking pork. As of these new guidelines, 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured on a food thermometer, followed by a three-minute rest time, is a safe final internal cooking temperature for pork.
The new recommended temperature is a significant 15 degrees less than what was previously recommended and will typically yield a finished product that is pinker in color than most home cooks are accustomed to.
“Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-optimal eating experience,” said Pamela Johnson, Director of Consumer Communications for the National Pork Board. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy – and safe – temperature.”
The revised recommendation applies to pork whole muscle cuts, such as loin, chops and roasts. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of cut or cooking method, both the USDA and National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature.
Today’s Temperature for Today’s Pork
The new recommendation reflects advances in both food safety and nutritional content of pork in recent years. On average, most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner than 20 years ago, and saturated fat has dropped 27 percent. In fact, pork tenderloin is now as lean as the leanest type of chicken – a skinless chicken breast.
“As America’s pork producers improved feeding and breeding practices to deliver leaner pork, in tandem with industry-wide efforts covering food safety, it was time to revisit the long-standing consumer guidelines for preparation,” said Johnson. The USDA guidelines for pork now mirror doneness advice for other meats.
For me, personally, I’m not a fan of the the more pink color of the pork. I’ll more than likely take the temperature guideline into consideration, but keep the meat on the grill and in the oven just a little bit longer to get to the color I’m more accustomed to.
In addition to the new recommendation to cook pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time, the USDA food preparation guidelines advise the following:
- Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often
- Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate
- Cook: To proper cooking temperatures
- Chill: Refrigerate promptly