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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Updated Recommendations for Safely Cooking Meat and Poultry

Updated Recommendations for Safely Cooking Meat and Poultry

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is updating its recommendations for safely cooking pork, beef steaks, roasts, and chops. USDA recommends cooking all whole cuts of meat to 145 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allowing the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or consuming.
The USDA is lowering the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 degrees F to 145 degrees F and adding a three-minute rest time. The safe temperatures for cuts of beef, veal, and lamb remain unchanged at 145 degrees F but the USDA is adding a three-minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations. A temperature of 145 degrees F would be termed ‘medium rare.’

This change does not apply to ground meats, including ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork which should be cooked to 160 degrees F and do not require a rest time. The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, remains at 165 degrees F.

This also does not apply to cured pork products such as ham. Fresh or raw ham should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F; pre-cooked ham should be reheated to 140 degrees F.

The new cooking recommendations clarify long-held perceptions about cooking pork. Historically, consumers have viewed the color pink in pork to be a sign of undercooked meat. If raw port is cooked to 145 degrees F and allowed to rest for three minutes, it may still be pink but is safe to eat. The pink color can be due to the cooking method, added ingredients, or other factors. Many cuts of meat, but especially port, have gotten leaner over time. As farmers have raised leaner animals there is less fat in the muscle to baste the meat during cooking and the meat tends to dry out, especially if cooked. Cooking to a lower, but still safe, internal temperature will give consumers a safe, high quality product to enjoy.

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