New health guidelines for porking it up on Memorial Day

According yesterday's announcement by the US Department of Agriculture, you no longer have to cook pork to a miserable, drying 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Image courtesy of Flickr user woodleywonderworks.

Pork...soon after it ceases to be called the "other white meat," there's truly something to "be inspired" about.

Granted, there was probably a good reason for the Pork Board's decision to update its well-known slogan back in March. Comparing something to chicken (which supposedly everything tastes like) probably isn't a great way to make a case for how exciting a food it is. Also, technically, pork is a red meat.

But, I am excited and inspired by the fact that, according yesterday's announcement by the US Department of Agriculture, you no longer have to cook pork to a miserable, drying 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You just have to get it to 145 degrees inside (hotter outside, of course) and let it rest at that temperature for three minutes. That's can even be a little pink!

Now when I come home from the grocery store with some thin sliced boneless lean pork chops, marinade them in mojo, and cook them up on my Foreman Grill, I don't have to feel guilty and anxious about being unwilling to turn them into hockey pucks before adding the applesauce.

When you're chillin' and grillin' this Memorial Day, just remember to test for doneness at 145 degrees with your meat thermometer, and let the meat have that all-important three minutes of resting time that ensures doneness and flavor (and the destruction of foodborne organisms such as Salmonella and trichinosis).

In terms of awesome tech, Amazon users recommend checking out the CDN Digital Programmable Probe Thermometer.

This digital, programmable high-heat thermometer with stainless steel probe and cable is touted as being great for roasting and barbecuing. It lets you check internal food temperatures without opening the grill or the oven door. It can also help prevent burns by letting you avoid repeatedly holding your hands over a hot grill.

It's programmable, so you can have an alarm sound when your food is done. Make sure to cook all cuts of red meat to 145 degrees, all ground red meat to 160 degrees, and all poultry to 165 degrees.

If you want to celebrate the changed guidelines, you can read all 429 news articles here. Or read the USDA's Fact Sheets on Pork. It's chock full of information on how to defrost, handle, cook, and avoid foodborne organisms in today's leaner, pork.

Also, I particularly recommend Russ Parsons' L.A. Times Blog's well-thought-out, nuanced take on the subject of pork temperatures.

Have a great Memorial Day, don't drink and drive, cook all meats to healthy temperatures, and stay cool.

Let us know what you think about the new guidelines for pork doneness, how you like to prepare it, or what kind of meat thermometer you like to use.