Can Pork Be Pink in the Middle?
While many people are under the impression that pork must be completely cooked through and without any visible pink in order to be safe, this is not necessarily the case. The truth is that it’s perfectly safe to eat pork that is still slightly pink in the middle, provided that it has reached the required internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason that it’s okay to eat pink pork is because the safe cooking temperature of meat has been changed since 2011. The new guidelines state that it’s safe to eat meat when it has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees, regardless of its color.
The reason that it’s possible for pork to be pink in the center is because there are many different factors that can affect the way meat turns out when it’s cooked. These include things like the cut of meat, how long it’s been cooked for, and whether or not it has been seasoned with certain rubs or spices. The most common cause of pink meat is due to the way that proteins interact with amino acids when they’re heated up. Different types of protein can react differently, which can result in them turning gray or brown instead of the expected red color. The other cause of pink meat is because of the way that specific cuts of meat contain more or less myoglobin, an oxygen-binding protein that gives raw meat its color. Fatty cuts of meat, such as pork belly, tend to have more myoglobin than leaner meats, which means that they will be more likely to remain pink even after being thoroughly cooked.
Additionally, certain rubs and spices can also help to deepen the color of meat, even when it’s fully cooked. This is especially true if the meat is brined or marinated beforehand. Because of this, it’s important to take the time to make sure that a piece of pork is fully cooked before eating it if you’ve had it seasoned with any sort of rub or spice.
There is still a risk of food poisoning if pork is undercooked, and it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of trichinosis and E. coli. This is why it’s always best to use a meat thermometer rather than relying on a visual indicator of doneness.
Pork that is cooked to the recommended temperature will no longer be pink or red, but it will be tan or white in color. While it may be a bit confusing for cooks who are used to seeing meat turn from red to pink to tan or white when it is properly cooked, this is why using a thermometer is the most reliable way to ensure that your pork has reached the correct temperature.