With July 4th just around the corner, and the summer BBQ season upon us, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced new safety guidelines to keep your family healthy when cooking meat.
Before you get grilling, keep in mind the USDA is lowering the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork (i.e. steaks, roasts, and chops) from 160 °F to 145 °F, and adding a three-minute rest time.
A rest time is the amount of time the product remains at final temperature after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or stove top. During those three minutes the meat’s temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.
The temperature of meat needs to be measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the cut, before resting and carving.
Until now, consumers saw the color pink in pork to be a sign it was undercooked. Now the USDA says 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.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) determined it is just as safe to cook cuts of pork to
145 °F with a three minute rest time as it is to cook them to 160 °F, the previously recommended temperature, with no rest time.
The CDC now estimates one out of every six people, nearly 48 million people, get sick every year from foodborne disease.
Very young children are at high risk, as are the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
The safe temperature for cuts of beef, veal, and lamb remains unchanged at 145 °F, but the three-minute rest time applies.
“With a single temperature for all whole cuts of meat and a uniform 3 minute stand (rest) time, we believe it will be much easier for consumers to remember and result in safer food preparation,” says USDA Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen.
The temperature changes do not apply to ground meats, including ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork, which should be cooked to 160 °F and do not require a rest time.
The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, remains 165 °F.
The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888MPHotline)
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – foodborne diseases
RI’s Food Safety Net
RI Department of Health Office of Food Protection
National Coalition for Food Safe School – RI
RI’s Coordinated School Health Program – ThriveRI