Thursday, June 2, 2011

USDA Lowers Safe Cooking Temperature for Pork

Last week the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lowered the safe cooking temperature for cuts of pork from 160 degrees to 145, a monumental decision for an agency still publishing the safe cooking temperatures for brontosaurus and pterodactyl.

Despite the government's previous standards, many chefs have been undercooking certain cuts of pork for years, in order to avoid dry, flavorless results.

The public, though, may still overcook pork, as the fear of trichinosis runs rampant, despite its virtual elimination in this country. However, as Food Safety News reports,
"Pork producers have been asking for the lower cooking standard since 2008, based in part on husbandry conditions that reduce the risk of exposure to pathogens. Trichinosis, a common zoonotic disease worldwide, has almost disappeared in connection with pork in the U.S. because so many pigs are now raised indoors. Most recent domestic cases of the disease have been associated with eating undercooked wild meat."
While pink pork has already been cooked and eaten by many for years, I learned something new while fishing around the USDA's website yesterday. Pink chicken (which I've been known to eat on occasion) isn't necessarily unsafe. According to the USDA:
"The color of cooked chicken is not a sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that chicken has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout. The pink color in safely cooked chicken may be due to the hemoglobin in tissues which can form a heat-stable color. Smoking or grilling may also cause this reaction, which occurs more in young birds."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton for the pink chicken info. I have been curious about that for a long time and while I used to overcook it trying to get rid of the pink, at some point I gave up and just served it -- then waited for everyone to get sick. (No one ever did, that I am aware of, but turkey is another story altogether.)