Are you afraid of undercooked pork?

Hi guys,  I’m (Katie) still doing the actual posting, but I forgot my mom saved a post so I figured I would post it today!  As you might have guessed from the title, it is about pork.  Pork is one of those things that my mom would always say she was making when I was younger and I would tell her that I hated pork, but then I would always end up eating and liking it.  Yet time and time again, I always thought I hated it, still kinda do.   Do you guys have a food like that?

Anyways, here is Karen’s post:

The other night I made pork chops and was distracted with quite a few phone calls.  The pork chops got left in the oven much longer than usual.  When Craig bit into the chop he said, “Just like Mom used to make, overcooked and dried out”  This is not to say that his Mom is a bad cook but I think she is the norm in that she is afraid of undercooking pork and takes it to the other extreme.  I remember taking a cooking class many years ago and I was surprised to see pork served a bit on the pink side.  The chef insisted pork cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F is very safe.  It still has a nice amount of moisture and flavor and I have been using a quick read thermometer ever since for pork, especially pork tenderloin. But I thought I should back up this random bit of information and see if it’s really good information.  I looked around online to see what the experts have to say about pork safety and also found some interesting facts. Here’s what I found:

  1. If pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F even if it is pink, it should be safe.  The USDA recommends cooking ground pork, chops and roasts to 160 degrees.
  2. The foodborne organism that is most often associated with pork is trichinosis and it is caused by the parasite, Trichinella spiralis.  In the US cases of trichinosis have declined steadily since the 1950s and occur infrequently now.  The few cases that are reported in the US usually come from eating undercooked game, bear meat or home raised pigs (not grocery store pork)
  3. Freezing pork that is 6 inches thick or less for 3 days at -4 degrees F or for 20 days at 5 degrees F can kill the larval worm of trichinella spiralis.
  4. The country with the highest rate of trichinosis is China, with about 10,000 cases per year
  5. Pork is the number one meat consumed in the world
  6. The earliest surviving pork recipe is Chinese and is more than 2000 years old
  7. In spite of the ads that call pork the other white meat, it is considered a red meat.  Oxygen is delivered to muscles by red blood cells and one of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle.  The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines if meat is considered a red meat.  Pork has more myoglobin than chicken.
  8. Trichinella spiralis was first identified by a medical student named James Paget in 1835 during an autopsy in London.  His professor, Richard Owen, named the parasite and published the first report describing the parasite
So pork really is safe to ‘undercook’ as long as you have a meat thermometer to check the temperature!  I made mine simple and didn’t marinate because Craig likes plain pork.  I just baked for 40 minutes–they were thicker chops, if you had thin ones you could probably do 20.  Simple as that!
If you have been afraid of undercooked pork, give these a try and I think they will change your mind.
Have a good rest of the week with Katie, I’ll have a trip recap for you next week!
Karen

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