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Extension > Food > Food Safety > Preserving and Preparing > Meat and Fish > New Guidelines to Cook Meat Safely

Meat and Fish

New Guidelines to Cook Meat Safely

Suzanne Driessen, Extension Educator — Food Safety

May 2011

USDA Lowers Cooking Temperature of Pork

Pork with food thermometer

In May 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered the internal cooking temperature of whole cuts of pork from 160°F to 145°F but requires a resting time of three minutes before carving or eating. The three-minute rest or hold time was also added to fresh cuts of beef, veal and lamb cooked to 145°F. When you remove the meat from the heat source, the temperature continues to rise. Allowing the meat to rest is needed to achieve safe pathogen destruction.

Why did the cooking temperature of pork get lowered?

USDA's research found the same pathogen reduction for pork cooked to 145°F with a three-minute stand time as cooking pork to 160°F. The 145°F cooking temperature of pork with a three-minute rest time is consistent with commercial food preparation temperatures and hold times.

Won't pork have a pink color if cooked to 145°F?

Pork or other meat cooking to 145°F with a three-minute rest time may still be pink in the middle. That's why using a food thermometer to verify the final internal cooking temperature of all meat and poultry is the only way you will know if you have reached the safe temperature to kill pathogens that can make you sick.

Why is the rest time important?

When you remove the meat from the heat source, the temperature continues to rise. Allowing the meat to rest is needed to achieve safe pathogen destruction. It is a time/temperature relationship. Having a lower cooking temperature and holding it there for a certain amount of time will achieve the same kill effect of pathogens as cooking it to a higher internal temperature.

The rest time is also an important quality issue. Meat will be juicer and taste better if it rests. It is worth the wait, not only for safety but so the juices absorb back into the meat. Juices are released if you cut or slice immediately after cooking.

Only Three Temperatures to Remember

Source

USDA Revises Recommended Cooking Temperature for All Whole Cuts of Meat, Including Pork, to 145 °F, USDA News Release, Washington, DC, May 24, 2011.

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