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Pork Food Safety During COVID-19

As a mom and grandma, I want nothing more than to protect my family and keep them healthy. We have been following the CDC guidelines for preventing COVID-19 in our home. It has meant too many weeks of missing hugging my grandchildren, but I am grateful for each passing day when we remain healthy.

Healthy eating has always been important to me as a registered dietitian. Like many of you, I have been trying out my cooking and menu planning skills in the last few weeks as we stay home.

My husband Steve and I are fifth generation South Dakota family farmers. We raise pigs, the vast majority of which are delivered to be processed at Smithfield in Sioux Falls. Like Smithfield, our business is also negatively affected by the COVID-19 virus. When forces out of our control put both our health and our livelihoods in jeopardy, it’s especially frustrating.

Wearing all of my hats as a dietitian, a grandma, a mom, a cook and a pig farmer, I want to stress to my fellow grandparents, parents and South Dakotans that pork is as safe, nutritious and tasty today as it was before the corona virus was part of our daily conversations. According to the CDC, FDA and USDA, currently there is NO evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. While it is important to wash your hands after being in the grocery store, handling the boxes and packages should not be a concern.

When the food reaches my hands after purchase, it becomes my responsibility to take care of it to prevent a food-borne illness. The message from the CDC, FDA and USDA has not changed with concerns about COVID-19. We need to Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill correctly to maintain safe food in our home.

By following safe food handling practices you can bring food safely from the grocery store to your table. I have adapted the information so you can feel confident in providing your family with safe pork.

CLEAN: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling pork or any food. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

SEPARATE: Separate raw pork, beef, poultry and seafood from other foods in the grocery cart, in shopping bags and in the refrigerator. Use a cutting board for raw pork, beef, poultry and seafood and a separate one for fresh produce.

COOK: Cook pork to the correct temperature. Use a thermometer to check, you can’t tell by looking at it. For fresh pork cuts a temperature of 145°F with a 3-minute rest ensures a safe eating experience and meat that is tender, juicy and tasty. Find information about the correct cooking temperature for your favorite cut of pork along with tasty recipes on the Pork Checkoff website pork.org

CHILL: Refrigerate pork within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. Never thaw your pork at room temperature. There are three safe ways to thaw your pork: in the refrigerator, in the microwave or in cold water. Always marinate pork in the refrigerator.

I know that the farmers, food processors, food distributors and retailers work hard every day to ensure we have a safe food supply, and I am grateful for their work to keep us fed. As pig farmers, we consider providing safe food one of our most important responsibilities.Find more information about pig farmer’s commitment to the safest, highest quality pork supply in the world at www.porkcares.org


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