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Prevent Contamination

When working with pork it is essential that the meat is handled and stored properly to ensure food safety. You cannot see the harmful bacteria on the meat so you must handle it as if it is present. Trichinella spiralis (trichina), a parasite found on pork, can cause a foodborne disease called trichinosis. Follow the guidelines below to ensure safety against foodborne illnesses when handling pork.


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 tasting to eliminate the spread of germs.


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. 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 different platters and cooking utensils for cooked meat and raw meat (unless they have been properly cleaned and left to air dry after exposure to 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, such as raw vegetables and fruit.

Cooking Safety 

With pork being approximately 20-30% 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 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 58°C. To ensure that we are safe from trichinosis, it is recommended that most cuts be cooked to approximately 66°C to 70°C, which is medium well done and should leave the meat juicy and flavourful. For well done meat, cook to 72°C. 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 63°C. Pork cooked to these temperatures may still be slightly pink inside, but safe to eat as long as it has reached the desired temperature.

When cooking pork, it is suggested that the meat be removed from the heat source when it reaches a temperature that is 2°C to 4°C lower than the desired 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 overcooked.


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