New cooking guidelines from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) confirm Pork Checkoff research that pork can be consumed safely when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time.

The new recommended cooking temperature is a significant 15 degrees less than what was previously advised, and will provide a finished product that is pinker in appearance.

“Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-optimal eating experience,” relates Dianne Bettin, Truman, MN, pork producer and chair of the Checkoff’s Domestic Marketing Committee. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorable, juicy and safe temperature.”

The revised USDA guidelines apply to pork whole-muscle cuts such as loins, chops and roasts. Ground pork, as with all ground meats, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. USDA and the National Pork Board both recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature.

A risk assessment was conducted by Exponent Inc., an engineering and scientific consulting firm, to evaluate any food safety implications of cooking temperatures within a range of 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit.

The risk assessment found that cooking pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees was equivalent to cooking pork to 160 degrees. Checkoff-funded research conducted by Texas A&M University supports the fact that meat temperature continues to rise after being removed from heat, and FSIS agreed that the cooking temperature for pork could be lowered.

The USDA cooking guidelines now reflect doneness advice for other meats.

“It’s great news that home cooks can now feel confident to enjoy medium-rare pork, like they do with other meats,” says Guy Fieri, chef, restaurateur and television show host. “Pork cooked to this temperature will be juicy and tender. The foodservice industry has been following this pork-cooking standard for nearly 10 years.”

USDA food safety guidelines also suggest:

  • Clean: wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.
  • Cook: To proper cooking temperatures.
  • Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

Ceci Snyder, vice president of Domestic Marketing for the National Pork Board, says staff will be communicating this pork-cooking message today via online advertising on news and food sites and working with food media and bloggers.

In addition, Pork Checkoff will be working with retailers and packers to make sure the cooking information on packaging and at the meat case is correct.

“This message will certainly resonate with pork’s new consumer target, who enjoys cooking and already knows about thermometers,” Snyder says.

“We certainly expect this message to help with our ongoing marketing plan and create even more ‘inspiration’ for the great taste of properly cooked pork,” she adds.

For additional information about cooking pork, including recipes, go to www.PorkBeInspired.com, or www.Facebook.com/PorkBeInspired.