Safely preparing pork products

Serve your guests a special meat selection like pork loin. Michigan Fresh offers a free bulletin with recommendations for purchasing pork, meat storage, how much to prepare and much more.

Are you looking for a great way to serve your guests a special meat selection? Try pork loin! Do you have questions on how to store pork? Or, how much pork to purchase for your gathering?

Michigan State University Extension has a Michigan Fresh bulletin called Pork. The bulletin lists recommendations for purchasing pork, meat storage and how much to purchase. It also describes cuts of pork and preferred methods of preparation for these products, as well as important food safety information.

Food safety instructions detailed in the bulletin cover thawing, marinating, cooking and freezing pork. It is important to always thaw meats in the refrigerator, the microwave or in cold water. Never thaw meat on the counter. It is best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. When marinating meat always marinate in the refrigerator. If you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, set some aside in the refrigerator before adding it to the raw meat. Do not reuse marinade from raw meat unless you boil it for several minutes to destroy any bacteria from the raw meat. The safety of pork and how it is stored and handled is important to guard against food poisoning. Raw pork should be stored in a bowl or on a two inch deep pan in the bottom of the refrigerator. Your refrigerator temperature should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Washing meat before cooking is not recommended. This can cause cross-contamination by allowing bacteria in raw meat to spread to other foods, utensils and surfaces. Pork, like all meats should be handled carefully to prevent cross-contamination.

Herbs can certainly enhance your pork selection. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has a useful guide to acquiring a flavorful meat using herbs, called Cooking with Herbs. Using a mixture of fresh and dried herbs – crumble, mixing together and then rub them on the meat. Start with small amounts and adjust as needed.

Once you have selected the cut of pork to prepare and have safely cooked it, it is critical to check the temperature of pork. The United States Department of Agriculture advises the use of a food thermometer for all meats. These guidelines will advise you when you check for the doneness of the meat. 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 the cooking time, but before you expect it to be done. Be sure to clean your food thermometer with hot, soapy water before and after each use.

Following these steps will ensure a flavorful and food safe product that you and your family can enjoy.

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