Is pork really safe at 145 F?

When the USDA announced yesterday that we can now safely eat pork pink in the center—cooked to 145 F rather than the previous guideline of 160 F—all many of us could say is, "It's about time". The FDA, which sets safety practices for restaurants and food service, has used the 145 F for many years. The USDA sets guidelines for home cooks.

Why the difference? According to Pamela Johnson, Director of Consumer Communication for the National Pork Board, the new guideline for consumers has been in the works for a long time. The USDA did a great deal of research—both scientific and consumer behavior-- and had to be sure consumers are ready to eat pink pork.

Our grandmothers cooked pork until it was gray, and for good reason. Pork used to carry a pathogen that caused trichinosis. The key phrase here is "used to". Thanks to changed breeding practices, trichinosis from pork has not been a concern for many years.

So if you want to eat pork that is moist and flavorful and juicy, cook it to 145 F and let it rest a couple of minutes before slicing. It should be lightly pink in the center.

Check out our collection of pork recipes. Pork is better than ever now!

Recipe: Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Editor's Note: Most of the pork recipes currently on MyRecipes will not reflect this new USDA guideline since the recipes come from our print partners and were tested and published prior to May 2011. Take this into account when you are preparing recipes and consider cutting back slightly on the cooking time that is called for in the recipe.

Marge Perry

May 2011