Can pork be pink even if your meat thermometer reaches 145°F? Let me explain.
When I was growing up, the answer to “Can pork be pink?” was an emphatic no. Our only pork was gray, tough, and chewy. I am not criticizing my mother’s cooking; she followed the guidelines established at the time, cooking pork to 160°F. Unfortunately, that “safe” pork was also overcooked.
The United States Department of Agriculture, the organization responsible for determining safe food temperatures, revised its recommendations in 2011. It is now safe to eat pork when it reaches 145°F. Pork cooked at a lower temperature is juicy, tender, and delicious, but it may also have a hint of color. Among the safest types of meat to consume is pork; what about the others?
So, is pink pork safe?
Yes, in a nutshell! There used to be a fear of pink pork because of a parasite known as trichinosis, but the risk of contracting it is virtually nonexistent today. It is important to note that pork temperatures are designed to cook the meat long enough to eliminate E. coli. As a result, the middle of the meat may have a little color.
How do you know when pork is done?
Meat thermometers are the best tool for determining when pork is done cooking. Poking it with a skewer or probing it with a skewer doesn’t tell you for sure if your meat has reached a safe temperature; they only give you a general idea. Thermapen Mk4 is the thermometer of choice for Taste of Home’s Test Kitchen.
Slice the meat after it has rested for at least five minutes; it should be pale white with a hint of pink. A pork roast cooked at 145°F is considered “medium rare.” The color doesn’t indicate anything nefarious. In medium rare steak, you’d expect to see some pink, so don’t be surprised if you see it in pork chops!
You can continue cooking it until it reaches 155°F if the pink color freaks you out. It will still be tasty, but it won’t be as juicy as it used to be. To cover up the dry bits, you’ll need to cook it much past this point and serve it with a good sauce.
What about ground pork?
Undercooking ground meat products like pork, beef, veal, or poultry is never okay. 165°F is the safest temperature to cook ground meat because grinding introduces air and potential bacterial contaminants. The following table shows how long different types of meat last in the refrigerator.