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All About Pork

pork, roasted pork

Canadian pork is both nutritious and safe to eat. It is important to prepare and store pork properly to enjoy it at its best. Read on to learn how you can include lean, quality pork as part of healthy eating. 

Pork is nutritious

Have you ever heard anyone say that pork is “the other white meat”? Well, in fact, pork is actually considered a red meat. This is because all cloven-hoofed animals, like pigs, are classified as “red”. Many cuts of pork are lean (low in fat) and can be part of a healthy diet. Choose the leaner pork tenderloin, chops, steaks, roasts and cutlets. Pork is also naturally trans fat free.

Pork contains 13-essential nutrients that help keep your body healthy and strong. One serving (75 grams or 2.5 ounces) of pork provides you with an excellent source of protein, vitamins B6 and B12, thiamin, niacin, selenium, zinc and phosphorous. In addition, pork is also naturally low in sodium.

Canada’s Food Guide recommends 2-3 servings of Meat and Alternatives every day for adults. Pork that has been trimmed of fat is a good choice in meeting this recommendation.

Pork is safe to eat 

Canadian pork is among the safest pork in the world. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors pork safety. Recent concerns about pork and the H1N1 virus and Trichinellosis disease might make you feel that pork is not safe to eat. Here we’ll clear up potential health safety concerns with eating pork.

H1N1 virus

The H1N1 virus – or swine flu – is a contagious respiratory disease of pigs. It is rare for humans to catch the virus from animals, as you would have to be in close contact with the infected pig. Most importantly, it is not possible to catch the virus by eating pork or pork products.

Trichinellosis

Trichinellosis is a disease that can affect both animals and humans. Human trichinellosis is due to eating raw or undercooked pork. However, there are strict regulations in place to identify and control trichinellosis in pigs. The risk to public health is low. Cooking pork at proper temperatures reduces this risk.

As with all food products, be sure to practice safe food handling in the home to avoid foodborne illness.

Store and prepare pork properly

Like any meat products, pork should be stored and prepared at the proper temperatures to avoid foodborne illness.

Pork can be stored safely in the refrigerator or freezer. Be sure to check the “packaged on” or “best before date” as a guide for freshness. Use this chart to remember how long you can store fresh, ground and cooked pork:

Refrigerator

4ºC (40ºF) or cooler

Freezer

-18ºC (0ºF)

Fresh pork (chops, roasts)

2-3 days

8-12 months

Cured or smoked pork

6-7 days

1-2 months

Leftovers

3-4 days

2-3 months

Pork does not need to be overcooked. In fact, a hint of pink in the middle of the product is both safe and desirable. Use the chart below to remember these important internal cooking temperatures:

Cooking Temperature*
Fresh pork (chops, roasts) 71ºC (160ºF)
Ground meat 71ºC (160ºF)

* Using a food thermometer will tell you when your dish is cooked to the right temperature so that it is safe to eat.

Bacteria can grow quickly in the danger zone between 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F) so keep hot foods at or above 60ºC (140°F).

Cooking with Pork

Pork can be enjoyed in so many different and tasty ways. Here are some tips in selecting and preparing pork:

  • Pork chops can be purchased boneless or bone-in. Bone-in chops tend to have a bit more flavour, and cook a bit faster than boneless chops.
  • Loin chops tend to be the leanest pork chop. However, rib and sirloin chops have more flavour because of their higher fat content.
  • Searing (quickly browning pork at high heat) before cooking through is a great way to seal in flavour.
  • All pork chops are perfect for grilling on the barbeque – try using a rub or marinade with some of your favourite ingredients. Fresh fruit juices like orange or pineapple make an excellent marinade for pork chops.
  • For nicely browned pork chops, pat them dry with a paper towel before cooking, even if they have been marinated.

Try some of these healthy recipes for a delicious way to incorporate pork into your diet:

Pork Tenderloin with Cider-Glazed Carrots

Asian Cucumber and Pork Bundles

Polynesian Pork Kebabs, Dietitians of Canada

Khao Tom (Thai rice soup)

Last Update – May 4, 2017

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