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    USDA Recommends Lowering Cooking Temp for Pork

    Today's pork cuts best enjoyed medium rare, agency says

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its recommendations for cooking pork, saying that 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured on a food thermometer, followed by a three-minute rest time, is a safe final internal cooking temperature.

    The new recommended temperature is a significant 15 degrees less than what was previously recommended and will typically yield a finished product that is pinker in color with more moisture than most home cooks are currently accustomed to, the agency noted.

    "Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-ideal eating experience," said Patrick Fleming, director of retail marketing for the National Pork Board. "The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy -- and safe -- temperature."

    The revised recommendation applies to pork whole muscle cuts, such as loin, chops and roasts. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of cut or cooking method, both the USDA and National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature.

    The new recommendation reflects advances in both food safety and nutritional content of pork in recent years. On average, most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner than 20 years ago, and saturated fat has dropped 27 percent. In fact, pork tenderloin is now as lean as the leanest type of chicken -- a skinless chicken breast.

    Retailers are encouraged to utilize temperature charts and customizable point-of-sale materials that will soon be downloadable from PorkRetail.org. These resources are being developed to help retailers spread the word to ensure their customers have the best pork eating experience.

    In addition to the new recommendation to cook pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time, the USDA food preparation guidelines advise the following:

    -- Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often

    -- Separate: Don't cross-contaminate

    -- Cook: To proper cooking temperatures

    -- Chill: Refrigerate promptly

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