USDA – United States Department of Agriculture research and testing has developed a handy chart listing safe cooking temperatures for poultry, beef and pork products.
Unlike grandma’s kitchen modern gadgets like instance read digital meat thermometers are cheap and should be in every kitchen. Meat thermometers can be found starting as low as $4.00 – $7.00 to $10.00 being a good entry point for a good quality thermometer.
USDA has made some important changes in their recommended cooking temperatures for meats. The biggest change is in safe cooking of pork products.
Here’s what you need to know:
Cooking Whole Cuts of Pork: USDA has lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 ºF to 145 ºF with the addition of a three-minute rest time. Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality juicy and tender.
Cooking Whole Cuts of Other Meats: For beef, veal, and lamb cuts, the safe temperature remains unchanged at 145 ºF, but the USDA has added a three minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations.
What Is Rest Time you ask.
“Rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful bacteria.
USDA testing has determined it’s just as safe to cook cuts of pork to 145 º F with a three-minute rest time as it is to cook them to 160 ºF, the previously recommended temperature, with no rest time.
The new cooking recommendations reflect the same standards that the agency uses for cooked meat products produced in federally inspected meat establishments, which rely on the rest time of three minutes to achieve a safe product.
How Do You Use a Food Thermometer? Good question.
Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food. It should not touch bone, fat, or gristle. Start checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before you expect it to be done. Be sure to clean your food thermometer with hot soapy water before and after each use.
Your tax dollars at work.
If you have questions about cooking meat, feel free to contact USDA Hotline (1-888-674-6854 toll-free) or online at AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov (Mobile Ask Karen) on your smartphone.