For juicy, tender and flavorful pork, it might be time to toss out Grandma’s advice. According to the new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, pork chops, roasts and tenderloins can be safely cooked to medium rare at a final internal cooked temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a food thermometer, followed by a three-minute rest time.
The new cooking temperature will produce pork that’s succulent and tender—not an over-cooked hockey puck – and will likely yield a finished product that is pinker in color than most of you are accustomed to.
Restaurants have been following this standard for nearly 10 years. The new temperature recommendation reflects advances in both food safety and nutritional content for today’s pork, which is much leaner than Grandma’s, and even Mom’s, pork. On average, the most common cuts of pork have 27 percent less saturated fat than the same cuts 20 years ago.
Both the USDA and the National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Pre-cooked ham can be reheated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or enjoyed cold on sandwiches.
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