If you’ve been cooking pork chops until they’re dry and leathery in the name of safety, stop now! The U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised its pork-cooking guidelines, saying it’s OK to cook the other white meat to 145 degrees, and that the previous 160 degree recommendation was “probably overkill.”
The 160-degree guidelines had been in place for decades, and were implemented to limit the risk of trichinosis. However, Elisabeth Hagen, the USDA’s undersecretary for food safety, tells USA Today that salmonella is “really the pathogen that we worry about the most in pork, so we had to be fully confident that salmonella would be killed.”
Once the pork chop or roast reaches 145 degrees as read by an instant-read thermometer, it needs to sit for three minutes to reach a safe internal temperature, the USDA guidelines recommend.
When the internal temperature hits 145, the external temperature will be higher. External heat kills bacteria on the surface of the meat. The interior of a muscle cut such as pork chops or steak is safe because bacteria can’t reach it.
The USDA continues to recommend cooking ground red meat to 160 degrees, because surface bacteria can get spread around during the grinding process. Chicken should still be cooked to 165 to beat more widespread salmonella prevalent in poultry.
USDA now says cooked pork can be pink, at 145 degrees – [USATODAY.com]
Pork that’s pink is okay to eat, says USDA in revised rules [Consumer Reports]
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.