Give Now

Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Rare Pork Gets The OK, Rare Beef Still On The Hot Seat

The USDA now says you can "Be Inspired" to cook pork less, but one state has made it illegal for restaurants to cook rare beef. The pink meat controversy!

rare burger held by a hand

Photo: roboppy (Flickr)

A burger this pink would be illegal to serve in restaurants in North Carolina.

Pink Piggy

Do you like your pork a little pink? Well, now the USDA says it’s safe.

The USDA recently released new guidelines that lowered its recommended cooking temperature to 145 F from 160 F.

“Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-optimal eating experience,” says Pamela Johnson, director of consumer communications for the National Pork Board. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy – and safe – temperature.”

The USDA says consumers should still cook ground pork patties and pork mixtures, like meat loaf, to 160 F. It’s the cuts like pork steaks, chops, and roasts that can be cooked to the lowered internal temperature of 145 F.

It’s What’s For Dinner… But Not How You’d Expect

While the USDA lowered the cooking temperature for pork, North Carolina still has a law requiring high cooking temperatures for beef.

In fact, it’s illegal for restaurants in the tar heel state to cook rare and medium-rare beef.

Since an outbreak of E. Coli at Jack in the Box restaurants in the 1990s, the state has required that all restaurants cook their ground beef to an internal temperature of 155 F.

To give some perspective, temperatures for cooking beef are as follows:

  • 145 F (60 C) for medium rare
  • 160 F(70 C) for medium
  • 175 F (75 C) for well done

The Beef Black Market

North Carolinians aren’t letting their state’s law get in the way of having their beef the way they like it: they are traveling across state lines for the perfect burger.

Additionally, to keep customers in state and happy, restaurants have been coming up with secret codes for patrons who want their burgers served rare.

All this said, the state is thinking about dropping the rule and instead requiring a disclaimer on menus stating the potential dangers of consuming raw and undercooked meat.

Read More:

  • Rare, Red Burgers on the Black Market (Food Safety News)
  • Why you can’t get a medium rare burger in North Carolina (Time)
  • Fresh Pork from Farm to table (USDA)
  • Pork is in the pink with the USDA, but don’t get carried away (LA times)
Katie Dawson

Katie Dawson is a sophomore at IU majoring in journalism and Spanish. Currently she lives in Bloomington, IN but is originally from Indianapolis. She enjoys cooking, eating and sometimes exercising.

View all posts by this author »

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Earth Eats:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Search Earth Eats

Earth Eats on Twitter

Earth Eats on Flickr

Harvest Public Media