It wasn’t that long ago that for the sake of food safety, the USDA wanted us to cook pork chops and roasts to 160°F . The result: Lots of tough, dry pork all across this great land of ours.
The good news is that a few years ago, the USDA aligned its recommendations for safe pork with what many chefs and food experts had been saying all along: That whole muscle cuts like pork chops, pork loin roasts, and pork tenderloin are safe when cooked to 145°F—a full 15°F lower than the old recommendation.
Bruce Aidells, author of The Great Meat Cookbook, suggests cooking lean cuts of pork to 135-140°F, then removing the meat from the grill and allowing residual heat to bring the final internal temp to 145°F during a short rest before serving.
And there’s no need to worry about trichinosis. That’s something our grandparents used to worry about when it came to pork, but it just doesn’t happen in our domestic pork supply today. Most cases that occur in the U.S.—about 20 per year—are associated with eating raw or undercooked wild game meats. On the grill, cooking pork to an internal temp of 138°F and holding at that temp for a few minutes kills trichinosis. So if you’re finishing pork at 140-145°F you’re good to go.
As always, a good quality instant-read thermometer is the key to achieving food-safe temps when grilling any meat.