Pork producers and consumers team up to put safe, healthy, wholesome meals on the table

By following best production practices and food safety guidelines, producers and consumers work together to ensure the products they produce and serve are of the highest quality.

Food safety might start out at the farm but the farm is only the first step in providing the consumers with a safe, healthy and wholesome pork product. Farmers work to employ the best production practices and methods on the farm to ensure their animals are provided with the best possible care and well-being. Pork producers reinforce this by participating in the Pork Quality Assurance Program, developed by National Pork Board and coordinated byMichigan State University Extension. Transportation services, packing plants and retailers also follow established guidelines to safeguard the quality of the product. Once the pork product reaches the home, it is the consumer’s responsibility to follow food safety guidelines when preparing meals.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced it is lowering their cooking temperature recommendations for pork products to an internal temperature of 145˚ F with a three-minute rest period before carving or consuming. This recommendation applies to pork steaks, roasts and chops. At this time, all ground meats, including beef, veal, lamb and pork should still be cooked to an internal temperature of 160˚ F. The internal temperature should be measured using a food thermometer, placed in the thickest portion of the meat product.

The USDA is confident that cooking raw pork products to 145˚ F and utilizing a three minute rest period will result in a quality product that is microbiologically safe. The rest period allows the meat product to continue cooking or remain at a constant temperature, which will destroy any pathogens.  This new recommendation dispels the thought that pink pork is not safe to eat. With a cooking temperature of 145˚ F and three-minute rest period, consumers may still be seeing a slight pink color in the finished pork product. Using a meat thermometer will help consumers gauge the correct doneness of their product and help them follow food safety guidelines as they prepare meals. From farm to fork, pork producers and consumers can work together to make sure that they are producing and serving products that are safe, healthy and wholesome.

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