U.S.D.A. lowers cooking temp for some meat cuts

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its recommendation for safely cooking whole cuts of meat, which include steaks, roasts and chops, to 145 ºF. The department has lowered the recommendation from 160 ºF, but included the additional step of letting the whole cuts rest for 3 minutes after being removed from the cooking process. The U.S.D.A. also noted that the change does not include ground meats, which should be cooked to 160 ºF, or all poultry products, which should be cooked to 165 ºF.

“With a single temperature for all whole cuts of meat and uniform 3 minute stand time, we believe it will be much easier for consumers to remember and result in safer food preparation,” said Elisabeth Hagen, undersecretary. “Now there will only be 3 numbers to remember: 145 ºF for whole meats, 160 ºF for ground meats and 165 ºF for all poultry.”

The U.S.D.A. defined the “rest time” as 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 from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens. The U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has determined that it is just as safe to cook cuts of pork to 145 º F with a three-minute rest time as it is to cook them to 160 ºF.

The new cooking suggestions reflect the same standards that the F.S.I.S. uses for cooked meat products produced in federally inspected meat plants, which rely on the rest time of three minutes to achieve safe pathogen reduction, according to the U.S.D.A.

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