USDA Sez You Can Stop Cooking Your Pork Chops to Death


American home cooks have been cheerfully ignoring the Department of Agriculture's guidelines for cooking beef for decades, enjoying burgers with juicy centers and rare steaks. But those same beef rebels turn into wimps when it comes to pork, cooking their pig to a consistency that makes the other white meat taste more like an alternative to traditional footwear. This crime against chops is committed many, many thousands of times a day in American homes thanks to a massive public awareness campaign about the dangers of pork-borne trichinosis.

Turns out, science sez pink pork is OK after all. This is something high-end chefs have known for years. Especially after breaking the bank on top-of-the-line fancypants pork product, it seems morally wrong to cook it to death. So they quietly started a pink pork pride movement. But really, even your run-of-the-mill plastic and Styrofoam chops are perfectly safe at a much lower temperature than the official recommendation.

On Tuesday, the USDA decided to lead by following, revising their guidelines to make pork that's pink inside a government-approved taste treat. The new rules appeared in a press release with this headline pairing (which made me slightly jealous of the people who write USDA press releases). 

USDA Revises Recommended Cooking Temperature for All Whole Cuts of Meat, Including Pork, to 145 °F

Cooking Temperature for Ground Pork, Beef, Veal, Lamb remains at 160 °F

Here's the skinny:

The new cooking recommendations clarify long-held perceptions about cooking pork. Historically, consumers have viewed the color pink in pork to be a sign of undercooked meat. If raw pork is cooked to 145 °F and allowed to rest for three minutes, it may still be pink but is safe to eat. 

And of course, the USDA officially reminds you about the color of ham:

As always, cured pork (e.g., cured ham and cured pork chops) will remain pink after cooking.

Thank god government officials are working tirelessly to keep us safe and well-informed.

Enjoy (for the second time today!) one of Reason.tv's grosser videos featuring a mound of decidedly undercooked pork:

Via tipster queen Courtney Knapp.