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Injury Prevention and Safety

How to Prepare and Eat Pork Safely

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has detailed information on pork safety on its website. In short, all fresh pork must be cooked to 160 degrees F, which is hot enough to kill pork-related pathogens such as Trichinella spiralis, which causes trichinosis, E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes.

Proper meat handling before and after cooking is also essential to reduce risk of food-borne illness. For example, the best way to defrost frozen meat is in the refrigerator. Never do so on the countertop or anywhere at room temperature because that allows any bacteria on the meat to multiply rapidly. Even cooking the meat afterwards might not offer protection, because some types of bacteria produce toxins as they multiply that aren't killed by heat.

Also, be sure to thoroughly wash all utensils, cutting boards, and other surfaces that come into contact with raw meat before using them for anything else.

This article originally appeared in Chowline, a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2009.

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Last Reviewed: May 01, 2009

Julie  Kennel, PhD, RD, CSSD, LD Julie Kennel, PhD, RD, CSSD, LD
Director of Human Nutrition Dietetic Internship
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University