NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Grilling Pork Safely and Lower

Grilling Pork Safely and Lower


          Food safety specialists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service have tweaked longstanding guidelines and now say that pork can be safely cooked at the same temperature that's safe for beef, veal and lamb: 145 degrees.  This is especially noteworthy as it reflects what consumers have been saying for years and is the first major revision in food temperature standards for meats in a multitude of years.

          The new recommendations also include that cooked pork should be set aside and allowed to rest for 3 minutes after removal from the grill and before serving, giving high temperatures a little more time to kill pathogens.

         "With a single temperature for all whole cuts of meat and uniform 3-minute stand time, we feel it will be much easier for consumers to remember and result in safer food preparation," USDA under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen reported.

          Ceci Snyder, vice president of marketing for the National Pork Board, based in Des Moines, Iowa, said pork producers first proposed the change back in 2008, citing improvements in feed and housing that had cut the risk for pathogens in pigs. Snyder commented that it's still important that consumers use a digital thermometer placed in the thickest section of the meat to make certain it is being properly cooked.

          Consumers need to remember though that the drop in the USDA safe cooking temperature guideline does not extend to ground meats or poultry products.

          What Cooking Temperatures Didn’t Change?

Ground Meats: This change does not apply to ground meats, including beef, veal, lamb, and pork, which should be cooked to 160 ºF and do not require a rest time.

Poultry: The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, stays the same at 165 ºF.

          What Is the new recommendation for Rest Time?  “Rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful bacteria.

          The new cooking recommendations clarify long-held perceptions about cooking pork. Historically, consumers have viewed the color pink in pork to be a sign of undercooked meat. If raw pork is cooked to 145 degrees F and allowed to rest for three minutes, it may still be pink but is safe to eat. The pink color can be due to the cooking method, added ingredients, or other factors. Many cuts of meat, but especially pork, have gotten leaner over time. As farmers have raised leaner animals there is less fat in the muscle to baste the meat during cooking and the meat tends to dry out, especially if cooked. Cooking to a lower, but still safe, internal temperature will give consumers a safe, high quality product to enjoy.


          Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Yield 6 servings 


2 (1 pound) pork tenderloins

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup barbeque sauce


          Season meat with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Lightly oil grate. Place tenderloin on grate, and position drip pan under meat. Cook over indirect heat for 30 minutes.  Brush tenderloin with barbeque sauce. Continue cooking for 15 minutes until temperature of 145 degrees is reached. Remove from grill and allow to rest for three minutes before serving.  

          Nutritional Information -Per Serving-   Calories: 197 ;  Total Fat: 3.7g  Cholesterol: 66mg


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