Story by: Sarah Nasello
October is National Pork Month, but for a lot of people, cooking pork properly can be intimidating, especially whole-muscle cuts like loin, chops and roast. As a child, I didn’t care for this kind of pork because it was always cooked to the point of being tough, dry and chewy.
As an adult, I avoided these cuts of pork altogether until 2011, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture changed its minimum recommended temperature guidelines for cooking pork from 160 degrees (well done) to 145 degrees (medium).
In the past, pigs were raised almost exclusively outdoors, living in the dirt and muck and eating whatever they came across. These conditions made pigs susceptible to trichinella, the parasite that can cause trichinosis in humans. Cooking pork to 160 degrees was a way to eliminate this threat and ensure the meat was safe to eat.
Today, thanks to advances in technology and modern farming practices, the pigs have been moved indoors to protect them from disease and infection. They are now raised in environments where cleanliness is a priority to ensure the pig’s health and comfort.
The air is filtered, the temperature is controlled and there are even specific practices employed to keep the pigs clean from waste, including giving the pigs a shower anytime they enter or exit the facility. As a result, trichinosis is no longer a threat in domesticated pigs, and we get to enjoy pork on a whole new level.
Pork is an excellent source of lean protein and nutrition, and I serve it for dinner at least once a week. As a medium-rare girl, this update has made my experience with pork a whole lot more enjoyable.
The National Pork Board and the North Dakota Livestock Alliance now encourage us to cook pork along the same spectrum as other meats. To celebrate National Pork Month this October, set your fear aside, grab a fork and bring the pink back to pork.
Medium Rare 145 to 150 degrees
Medium 150 to 155 degrees
Medium Well 155 to 160 degrees
Well Done 160+ degrees
To ensure an accurate temperature, always use a meat thermometer and let the meat rest for three to five minutes before carving.
For a video demo – Pork: Easy, versatile and delicious go to: http://bit.ly/PorkisEasyandDelicious