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For juicy, tender and flavorful pork, it might be time to toss out Grandma’s advice. Announced today, new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines confirm that 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 Traci Rodemeyer, Director of Pork Information 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 Rodemeyer. The USDA guidelines for pork now mirror doneness advice for other meats.
It’s Easier than Ever to Cook Like a Chef
“Now we can tell home cooks to do what we professional chefs have always known,” said Johnny Hernandez, owner of La Gloria Street Foods of Mexico and a National Pork Board Celebrated Chef. “Due to its leanness, oftentimes consumers overcook pork. Now people can cook at home, confidently, just like the experts.” The foodservice industry has been following this pork cooking standard for nearly 10 years.
In addition to the new lower cooking temperature recommendation for pork, 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
For more information and recipes to enjoy today’s lean and flavorful pork, visit PorkElSaborDeMilPlatillos.com, PorkBeInspired.com or Facebook.com/PorkBeInspired.
About The National Pork Board
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management.