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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cooking Pork is Cooler Than Before....

After ordering the pork chop dinner at your favorite restaurant, the waiter asks, "How would you like that cooked?"

Sounds out of place, huh?

Well, not anymore, as pork producers across the US are welcoming the news that the USDA has officially lowered the recommended cooking temperature for pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This means pork will now be held to the same standard as the other red meats: beef, veal and lamb.

Why is this so important to people within the pork industry? I can attest that as a person who would definitely order pork from a menu whenever possible, I can't count the times I've been disappointed by pork that has been dried out and overcooked, making for a pretty disappointing meal. However, when I cooked pork at home, I knew that I could leave it a little pink in the middle and enjoy a juicy, tender piece of meat that would rival a well-cooked steak or lamb chop.
Although the recommended temperature has been lowered by USDA, it may take a long time to get everyday consumers to leave a touch of pink in their pork on the backyard BBQ.

"People have been taught this for generations and it's going to take a long time to get this removed," said Rob Weland, a chef at Poste Moderne Brasserie, an upscale restaurant in Washington."It will be good for the next generation not to be so fearful so they can enjoy pork in a way they may not have been able to in the past."

The USDA decided to make the change after years of research and discussions with food safety experts. Pork producers had proposed the change in 2008, where they cited improved feed quality and cleaner, safer indoor environments as improvements that have reduced the risk of pathogens in pork.

Although producers and consumers alike should be excited that all red meat can now be cooked to a standard temperature, 145 degrees F, those of us within the industry understand that traditions don't change overnight and this event marks the beginning of a long campaign to better educate pork consumers nationwide.

I gotta admit, so far this year, Pork's doing a good job at inspiring me!



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