By: Joanne Cavis, UGA Cooperative Extension
The USDA has announced a new, lower recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork of 145 F with the addition of a 3 minute rest time. Save time and money, keep the house cool by grilling, use an instant read thermometer, and practice the recommended safe-food handling methods of clean-separate-cook-chill. . .
The safe cooking temperature for cuts of beef, veal and lamb remains unchanged at 145 F, but USDA is adding a 3 minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations.
Measure the temperature with a food thermometer, placed in the thickest part of the meat, and then allow the meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb) to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming. The uniform rest time for cooking raw steaks, chops, and roasts will result in a product that is both microbiologically safe and at its best quality.
There are now just three cooking temperatures to remember: 145 F for whole meats , 160 F for ground meats (pork, beef, veal, lamb) and 165 for all poultry products (including ground turkey and chicken), according to the USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen.
The “rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature after it has been removed from the oven, grill or other heat source. During the three minutes after the meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.
But, you say, it’s still pink! Appearance in meat is not a reliable indicator of safety or risk. Only by using a food thermometer can we consumers determine if meat has reached a high enough temperature to destroy pathogens of public health concern. Any cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. Likewise, meat can look “brown”, but not be thoroughly cooked to a safe temperature.
Invest $10 or less and purchase an instant read food thermometer and prevent foodborne illness which escalates during the hot summer months through time and temperature abuse.