New USDA Guidelines Lower Pork Cooking Temperature

Prior to 1970 pork consumption in the US was dropping yearly at pork had a reputation for being too fat to be a healthy meat choice.  Realizing that this was bad for business the US pork producers took steps to change the genetics, breeding, and feeding of pigs in order to produce a leaner, healthier protein source.  Their efforts proved successful so much so that their next step was to lobby the USDA and ask that they test and eventually reduce the required cooking time for pork because people were overcooking the pork and getting a very dry tasteless meat using the old standards.    In 2011 the FDA announced new cooking guidelines from the nation’s food-safety agency.  In fact, the UDDA made a rather significant change to cooking directions for pork reducing the safe internal temperature a full 15 degrees Fahrenheit.   The new guideline states that pork can be consumed safely when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time.

“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,” said Dianne Bettin, a pork producer from Truman, Minn., and chair of the Pork Checkoff’s Domestic Marketing Committee. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy – and safe – temperature.”

The revised recommendation applies to pork whole-muscle cuts, such as loin, chops, and roasts. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of cut or cooking method, both the USDA and National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature.