Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Rules for Pork

(Lisa) “I’m going to become a vegetarian”
(Homer) “Does that mean you’re not going to eat any pork?”
“Yes”
“Bacon?”
“Yes Dad”
“Ham?”
“Dad all those meats come from the same animal”
“Right Lisa, some wonderful, magical animal!”
- The Simpsons
I love a juicy pork chop but I've given up ordering chops at restaurants. They come out dry as leather almost every time. The reason for this is trichinosis, a parasitic disease caused by eating roundworm larvae in undercooked meat. This used to be quite common and some hypothesize that it's the reason behind the Jewish Kosher law forbidding pork. But today Trichinosis is no longer a problem in commercially grown pork and hasn't been for years. So the USDA has issued new guidelines saying that it's OK to eat pork that is still pink and it's OK to cook it to 145 F instead of 160 F as previously recommended.
"We found it was perfectly acceptable and that 160 was probably overkill," says Elisabeth Hagen, USDA's undersecretary for food safety.
The new guidelines focus on killing Salmonella which, sadly, is far too common in foods today like eggs and spinach. Cook meat to "145 for all whole cuts of red meat, 160 for ground red meat and 165 for poultry". When your whole cut of meat reaches 145 degrees, let it sit for three minutes the USDA recommends. The external temperature will be higher and will continue to cook the center for added safety without overcooking.

The 160 F is needed to kill bacteria like Salmonella that reside on the outside of the meat. Usually an internal temperature of 145 indicates that the outside has reached 160. When meat is ground, like hamburger, the bacteria can get mixed into the center and so every part of the meat must reach 160 (or 165 for chicken since Salmonella is more prevalent in poultry).

Bottom Line

Old habits can be hard to kick but I'm looking forward to juicer pork roast and chops.

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