Pork has become the world's favorite type of meat. Over the past few years though the safe Pork Cooking Temperature has changed causing some confusion on How to Cook Pork.
For decades people were told pork temperatures needed to be well done to be safe. Generations of people have grown up eating over done and dried out pork dinners. I'm excited to share with you what the safe pork temperature is now and how to enjoy those cuts of pork for dinner.
I have partnered with the National Pork Board to bring you this information. Graphics were provided by pork.org. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended Pork Cooking Temperatures
Up until a few years ago, the recommended cooked pork temperatures for ALL cuts of pork was 160°. Now, thanks to biosecurity and animal health, whole cuts of pork are safe to eat at a lower temperature.
So say goodbye to dried out, over cooked pork dinners! It's official. You can (and should) cook your pure cuts of pork to 145° NOT until the juices run clear! Keep in mind, the cooking temperature for ground pork is still 160°!!
According to the National Pork Board and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the minimum safe pork temperature for cooking pork chops, pork roasts, and tenderloin is an internal temperature of 145°F followed by a three minute rest.
This provides the optimal eating experience. Pork cooked this way has such a different taste, texture, and flavor. I highly recommend purchasing a meat thermometer and following a pork temperature guide to cook your pork to medium-rare or medium.
FYI: Ground pork and any pork cut that has been enhanced or injected with flavor should ALWAYS be cooked to 160°F because it is not a pure cut of meat anymore.
Adhering to the pork cooking temperature guidelines will result in the best eating experience for flavor and safety.
Why did the Recommended Temperature for Pork change?
The reason for cooking pork temperatures being changed is because of the way pigs are raised now.
The main reason for the higher temperature in the past was to remove trichinosis. Pigs that were raised outdoors could get a parasite called Trichinella from the dirt, and it could be passed onto humans if it wasn't killed in the cooking process.
With all the changes in biosecurity and with pigs being raised indoors, this is NOT a risk anymore.
Commercial pig farms are all indoors and the pigs are grain fed; therefore they are not exposed to Trichinella. They are raised in a much more comfortable and safe environment.
How to Cook Pork
- One important indicator of good pork quality is the color. Redder is always better. A deep colored cut of pork means it has a high water-holding capacity. Look for cuts of pork that are red and firm because they will be juicy and flavorful.
- Make sure the pillow pack is NOT full of liquids. If the liquid has already seeped out of the meat leaving it grayish-white, it means it has already lost a lot of its moisture and will result in a drier pork once cooked.
- Look at the marbling in the pork cuts. A meat's marbling indicates its fat content. The amount of marbling is mostly a personal consumer preference. Keep in mind that fat = flavor. If you are concerned with fat content you would want to opt for less marbling, while those looking for more flavor will want to choose more marbling.
- Be sure to pick the right cut of pork for what you want to make. See the guide below on How to Cook Pork and Chose the Right Cut for Recipes.
Fun fact: It is illegal in the US to inject pigs with hormones. Any commercial farmer found doing this would lose their ability to sell pork in the US. So any labels that you may find on packages in stores claiming to be "hormone free" are just a ploy to get you to pay more money.
What is the best temperature to cook pork?
Regardless of the cut of pork you have chosen, the finished cooking temperature should be at least 145°F. This will yield a pork product that is much pinker than what most people are used to. Do not go by color though, as it is not an indicator of doneness or temperature.
FYI: Always remember that ground pork and enhanced pork cuts should ALWAYS be cooked to 160°F.
"The National Pork Board now recommends cooking fresh cut muscle meats such as pork chops, pork roasts, pork loin, and tenderloin to an internal temperature of 145°F, followed by a three minute rest."
Pork today is very lean due to changes in farming, so it is important that you do not overcook it. Following the correct pork cooking temperature will ensure that your cooked cut of pork will be juicy and delicious.
Use a meat thermometer to check the done pork temperature to ensure the best eating experience. For an accurate reading, be sure the thermometer is not touching bone or fat.
Have you ever wondered about what goes on behind closed doors of a pig farm? Last year I had the opportunity to visit a few farms in Sioux Falls and learn about the reason for safety and caution on a farm.
A few months ago I was also able to visit a few pig farms in Michigan with the National Pork Board. This time we didn't go into the barns with the infant pigs, so we just had to put on blue bunny suits and plastic shoe covers as a safety precaution.
The biosecurity and safety measures that are used when someone visits a farm is for the pigs safety. I honesty didn't know much about pig farming or biosecurity before I visited these farms. Biosecurity is just a fancy word for keeping pigs healthy.
Pig farmers keep their barns and stalls clean to help minimize disease and illness in their pigs. They also need to be very careful about outside visitors bringing in other diseases that could affect their barns and livelihood.
Most farmers do not like to use antibiotics, but they realize that keeping the pigs healthy while they are growing is very important. If an animal does need antibiotics, it is tracked and closely documented.
Any meat that is tested by the USDA and is found to have any traces of antibiotics is thrown away, and the farm is flagged. If this happens a second time, that farm cannot continue to process their cuts of pork there.
As I visited the pig farms in Michigan, I was excited to see how friendly and open everyone was. These farmers are always learning and applying research to improve the life and health of their pigs.
Every single farmer is doing the best that they can to be a good steward of the land and resources that they own. They also want to be good neighbors and care takers as they provide people with high quality cuts of pork.
Many of these farmers are adding air filtration systems in their barns, are requiring visitors to show in and out, and are installing climate control systems. Anything that comes into contact with the pigs has to be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly.
Even the trucks that are used to transport pigs to market and to and from farms are completely washed and then heated or "baked" to 160° for 10 minutes. This process kills any bacteria or disease that may be present.
Easy Pork Recipes
- McCormick Pulled Pork recipe
- Cream Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- BBQ Pork Pizza
- Sausage Pasta Skillet
- Green Chili Pork Tacos
- Stuffed Zucchini with Hamburger (Bacon Cheeseburger)
- Tortilla Wrap
- Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs
- Healthy Pulled Pork
- Apple Bacon Casserole
*This post has been sponsored by the National Pork Board. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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