Pink Pork Won't Kill You According to the USDA


porkIf you're one of those pork connoisseurs who prefers your chop or tenderloin to be pink in the middle, rest assured: As of Tuesday, the USDA says you're in the clear as far as food-borne illness is concerned.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has lowered its temperature recommendation for cooking pork to 145 degrees -- down from 160. (This means that pork will be held to the same standard as beef, veal, and lamb.) Moreover, it is recommended to let the pork rest for three minutes after removing it from the grill or oven; the temp will continue to rise slightly while killing any remaining pathogens.

Of course, there's an inherent irony in the fact that the USDA is lowering pork's minimum temperature ...

It's that professional chefs have been cooking pork this way FOR YEARS! Now home cooks and backyard barbecuers can finally catch up to the restaurant standard without worry. But the question is: Will they?

The USDA's longstanding 160 degrees recommendation is so ingrained in our minds, it may be difficult for some to adjust to the new temp, explains Rob Weland, a chef at an upscale restaurant in Washington:

People have been taught this for generations and it's going to take a long time to get this removed ... It will be good for the next generation not to be so fearful so they can enjoy pork in a way they may not have been able to in the past.

Pork producers have been lobbying the USDA for years to lower the recommendation, arguing that improved feed and housing methods -- namely, moving hogs into bird- and rodent-proof buildings -- reduced the risk of pathogens and disease. From the consumer point of view, it's surprising to learn they were successful this time around given all the recent horror stories in the media about how factory farms are harmful to animals, the environment, and most important, the public. 

But if there's nothing worse to you than a piece of overcooked pork, news about the lower temp recommendation will surely make your day. Bring on the pink pork!

What temperature do you cook your pork to?


Image via VirtualErn/Flickr

food safety


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hotic... hoticedcoffee

I've been cooking pork  to 140 (serving at 145 with carryover) for years.  Pork cooked to 160 is inedible, in my opinion - unless it's a fatty hunk, like shoulder, and you cook it low and slow.  Then get outta my way!

starr... starrsitter

It's kind of ironic that the first time I've ever agreed with hoticedcoffe is about pigs...perhaps they were flying before they were cooked to a delicious 140. 

bills... billsfan1104

If you overcook pork, its like eating leather. Its so tough and dry, its terrible. I like my meat all of it, medium rare to medium.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I learned this a little while ago. It makes a huge difference.

bills... billsfan1104

I usually dont like pork chops, but the one in the picture looks soooooooooooo damn yummy. I am hungry!!!!

clean... cleanaturalady

I love a good pork chop.  I usually cook them well, but you have to know right when to stop or they do get dry. 

Jeric... Jerichos_Mommy

The onl thing it will change is how I serve it to my children.   I don't like pork so I don't eat it, dh likes everything extremly well done and crispy.  I will make it the new way for my boys

KamiB79 KamiB79

We make sure the pork is well done. I can't eat meat if ant kind that I think might nit be done!

dixie... dixiegurl223626

I cook my pork well done. I dont think I will try the new way.

nonmember avatar Becca

It's ok to be pink because Pork is SUPPOSED to be a red meat! They just started billing it as a white meat to compete with the chicken 'health' craze 20 or 30 years ago. I have a pork shoulder in my freezer I can't tell from a beef shoulder- purchased at the farmer's market from someone who raised it like they used to raise them, and not crossbred to a paler pig. It's DELICIOUS!

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