Bacon Vinaigrette w Grilled Radicchio
Grilled Pork Chops
Pork Baby-Back Ribs
Scrap Iron Bacon
Pork Handling, Safety & Storage
When working with pork it is essential that the meat is handled and
stored properly to ensure safety. You cannot see the harmful bacteria on
the meat so you must handle it as if it is present. Trichinella spiralis
(trichina) is a parasite that is found on pork, which can cause a food
borne disease called trichinosis. Follow the guidelines below to ensure
safety against food borne illnesses when handling pork.
Cleanliness: A clean working environment is
essential in the prevention of contamination when working with pork. Be
sure to wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw pork. The
work area, cutting boards, and utensils must be thoroughly cleaned with
hot soapy water after being exposed to raw pork and should not be used
for other foods until properly cleaned. This will prevent cross
contamination of bacteria from the pork to other foods.
When working with other foods at the same time as preparing and
cooking pork, be sure to use different utensils for each food. Do not
use the same cutting board for cooked meat as was used for the raw meat,
unless it has been properly washed and dried before using. When taste
testing food, do not use the same utensil that was used for preparation
and be sure that a clean spoon or fork is used for each taste to
eliminate the spread of germs.
Handling: Raw pork should be purchased just
before checking out at the store so it is exposed to unsafe temperatures
for as short a time as possible. It should be placed in a plastic bag to
prevent any leakage from contaminating any other foods. After purchasing
it should be taken home and refrigerated as soon as possible.
When cooking and serving pork, the meat must be handled properly to
prevent contamination. Use a different platter and cooking utensils for
cooked meat than what was used for the raw meat, unless they have been
properly cleaned and dried after exposure to the raw pork. Be sure that
raw pork does not come in contact with foods that have already been
cooked or foods that do not require cooking before being consumed, such
as raw vegetables and fruit.
With pork being approximately 30% leaner than it was a few decades
ago, it is important not to overcook it if the desired result is to
produce a cut of meat that is tender and juicy. In the past it was
thought that pork had to be cooked until well done to eliminate the risk
of trichinosis. Improved production and processing conditions have
mostly eliminated the risk of trichinosis but some risk does remain. We
still have to be concerned that the meat is handled and cooked properly
to eliminate all risks.
Trichinella spiralis, a parasite that causes trichinosis, is killed
when the meat reaches a temperature of 137°F. To ensure that we are safe
from trichinosis, it is recommended that most cuts be cooked to
approximately 155°F to 160°F, which is medium done and should leave the
meat juicy and flavorful. For well done meat, cook to 170°F. Fattier
cuts can be cooked to a higher temperature and still be delicious
because their additional fat bastes the meat to moisten it as it cooks.
Smaller cuts can be cooked to a lower temperature to prevent them from
drying out too quickly, but should be cooked to at least 145°F. Pork
cooked to these temperatures may still be slightly pink inside, but safe
to eat as long as it has reached the proper degrees.
When cooking pork, it is suggested that the meat be removed from the
heat source when it reaches a temperature that is 5°F to 10°F lower than
the desired doneness temperature and then allow the meat to rest for 10
to 15 minutes before serving or carving. In this time the meat continues
to cook and will reach the proper temperature without the meat becoming
Temperatures for Proper Doneness
|Roasts - Bone in or boneless
||160° - 170°F
|Whole Leg or Half Leg
||160° - 170°F
|Smoked Whole or Half Ham
|Smoked and Fully Cooked Ham
||130° - 140°F
|Chops and Steaks - 1 inch or thicker
||145° - 150°F
the proper temperature is not reached the meat should be
returned to the heat source for further cooking.
Pork should be stored so that it is kept out of the temperature zone
in which bacteria, that causes foodborne illness, grows quickly. The
danger temperature zone is a range between 40°F and 140°F. Raw pork can
be stored in a refrigerator several days, depending on the type of cut.
If it is not to be used within the recommended time, it should be frozen
to prevent it from perishing. Leftover cooked pork should be wrapped
tightly and refrigerated as soon as possible. Do not leave any pork at
room temperature for more than two hours. If cooked pork is not going to
be used within four days of cooking, it should be frozen.
Raw or cooked meat can be stored safely in a refrigerator at 40°F or
lower for several days. The amount of time that it can be refrigerated
will depend on the type of cut, the freshness of the meat when
purchased, the temperatures it is exposed to in transporting from the
store to home refrigeration, and the type of packaging used.
Pork should be stored tightly wrapped to prevent the meat from drying
out when exposed to air. Whenever possible, leave the raw pork wrapped
in its original package to minimize handling of the meat. If it is
necessary to rewrap, be sure to wrap tightly in plastic wrap, foil or a
leak proof bag or place in an airtight container. The package should be
placed on a dish with sides to prevent any meat juices from dripping on
other foods. The meat should be stored in the coldest section of the
Roasts, chops and steaks can be refrigerated at 40°F or less for
approximately three to four days and will remain safe to eat while
retaining the quality of the meat. Ground pork and fresh sausage should
be refrigerated for no more than two days. Properly refrigerated
semi-dry sausage can generally be stored for two to three weeks and dry
sausage up to six weeks.
When serving hot pork, it should be kept at a temperature of 140°F or
higher and then refrigerated as soon as possible after serving. Do not
allow the meat to remain at room temperature for more than two hours and
on days when the air temperature is over 85°F, reduce this time to an
hour or less. Cool leftovers as soon as possible and store for up to
four days in a refrigerator at 40°F or less. If leftovers are not going
to be used within four days, they can be frozen and stored for up to
three months. Be sure to reheat leftovers to 165°F to ensure that the
threat of bacteria growth is eliminated.
- Check the temperature of your refrigerator with an appliance
thermometer on a regular basis to verify that it is maintaining the
- Store raw meats on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to
eliminate the chance of meat juices dripping down on other foods and
- Chill leftovers quickly by dividing them into shallow dishes
before refrigerating. This will shorten the time that the pork is in
the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F.
- If you are not sure whether the pork has been refrigerated for
the maximum suggested storage time and you are questioning if it is
safe to eat, do not taste test it . . . be safe and THROW IT AWAY!
Raw pork should be stored in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower and
should be used within three to five days of the "sell by" date on the
package or it should be frozen. Freezing should be avoided if possible
because it will cause the pork to be less tender and juicy but, if it
will not be used within the three to five day refrigerator storage time,
it should be frozen to prevent it from perishing. Freezing meat has
little affect on its nutritional value.
When freezing, the pork should be frozen while it is as fresh as
possible to maintain the best quality. If it is going to be used within
two weeks of when it is first frozen, it can be left in the original
package, but if not, remove it from its original package and rewrap it
tightly, using moisture proof heavyweight plastic wrap, foil, freezer
bags, or freezer paper.
(Suggested times for maximum quality)
|Bacon and Sausage
||One to Two Months
|Roasts, Chops and Steaks
|Note: If storing
longer than the storage times shown above, double wrapping is
suggested to help keep in moisture.
To maintain its best quality, bacon and sausage should be used within
one to two months, ground pork within three months, and roasts, chops,
and steak within six months. If storing longer, double wrapping is
suggested to help keep in moisture. Be sure to wrap tightly against the
entire surface of the meat to prevent ice crystals from forming in areas
that are loosely wrapped. Ice crystals form in these areas because
moisture has been drawn out from the meat, causing the pork to become
tough in areas forming crystals. This condition is known as "freezer
Meat with Freezer Burn
|The freezer burn does not cause a safety problem but it will
discolor the meat in this area and leave it leathery looking. If
the freezer burn is left on the meat when cooked, it will be
bland tasting and have a very tough texture in the affected
areas. Freezer burn areas should be trimmed off before cooking
the cut of meat.
Mark the wrapped package with contents and the date so you know how
long it has been stored in the freezer. Pork can be kept frozen longer
than the recommended times and still be safe to eat, but the quality of
the meat will begin to deteriorate. If the proper freezer temperature
was maintained and the product was wrapped properly, it will help to
maintain its quality longer.
The meat should be frozen as quickly as possible. The quicker it
freezes the better it will be when thawed. To speed up the freezing
process, place the package on the floor or against the wall of the
freezer since these are the coldest parts. It is always best to freeze
and store frozen food in a freezer unit rather than a refrigerator
freezer. The freezer units will maintain a temperature of 0°F or below,
which will allow food to be stored for longer periods of time. A
refrigerator freezer will generally only maintain a temperature of 10°F
to 25°F and is opened more often, adding to the fluctuating temperature.
If meat is stored in a refrigerator freezer, it should be used sooner
than if stored in a freezer unit.
When freezing a large quantity of pork at one time, be sure you have
adequate freezer space so that proper temperatures are maintained when
freezing. You should have one cubic foot of freezer space for every two
pounds of meat. If the proper space is not available, the temperature of
the freezer will drop and not allow proper freezing. If you do not have
adequate space, it may be best to let your butcher freeze the meat
properly and then transfer it to your freezer unit for storage. If
transferring frozen meat, make sure the meat is not exposed to warm
temperatures, allowing it to thaw in any way. Take frozen meat home
immediately and put into the freezer as soon as possible.
Freeze cooked pork by removing the meat from the bones as soon as
possible after cooking and wrapping tightly using a freezer proof wrap,
bag or container. Remove as much air as possible, seal tightly and then
freeze at 0°F or below. Store for up to three months.
- Use moisture proof wrap or bags when freezing meat. Wax paper is
not moisture proof and should not be used for wrapping pork because
it will not hold the moisture in the meat.
- Be sure all packages are marked with the name of the cut and the
date it was frozen.
- A double layer of wax paper can be used between chops and steaks
when freezing to make them easier to separate when thawing.
- Freeze fresh pork as soon as possible to maintain the best
- Store frozen meat in a freezer unit to obtain maximum storage
- Do not freeze canned meat. The liquid in the can may expand and
cause the seal on the can to break open. Generally these items are
processed to be stored in the refrigerator or are processed as shelf
stable convenience items.
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