Eat at your own risk. “Yersinia enterocolitica” is more than a mouthful—the antibiotic-resistant bacteria could also be to blame for a f...
“Yersinia enterocolitica” is more than a mouthful—the antibiotic-resistant bacteria could also be to blame for a few days spent in bed with food poisoning. According to a recent article in Consumer Reports, the bacteria was present in 69 percent of 198 store-bought pork samples tested. (Gross.) So we had to ask: Is it time to ditch the pig?
“People shouldn’t be afraid of pork,” says Martin Bucknavage, senior food-safety extension associate at Penn State University. All meat comes loaded with bacteria from processing and packaging—that’s why we cook it. Hitting the right temperature will wipe out all the germs, no matter how antibiotic resistant they are.
So here are three easy fixes for common pork-cooking mistakes:
Your mistake: You use your eyes.
Lots of people think they can tell if meat is cooked by looking at it. Guess what? You can’t. The only way to ensure you’ve killed all germs is to hit at least 140 degrees for whole pork and 165 degrees for ground pork—which means you’ll need a good meat thermometer. Your go-to gauge: The OXO Good Grips Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer. Just stick it in your meat and it’ll tell you exactly when you’re safe to eat. $20, oxo.com)
Your mistake: You think organic is better.
Not always. Consumer Reports suggests you should switch from conventional to organic to cut back on bacteria, but Bucknavage says it could be a mistake. “Even organically raised pork can have bacteria with antibiotic resistance,” he says. Regardless of where your meat comes from, it will be exposed to bacteria in the slaughtering and butchering process—and you’ll need high temperatures to kill the germs.
Your mistake: You wash off your meat.
Rinsing your meat sounds like a good idea, but if you do it wrong, you could have bacteria all over your sink and counter, says Bucknavage. Worse, it only takes a drop of cross-contamination to make you sick. Your move: Open your meat over a garbage can, and clean the area as you go. Still rinse it, but don’t power wash it—keep the water pressure low to avoid splattering your counter, and be sure to clean the faucet ASAP. (Here’s How and When to Wash Your Produce.)
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