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Holiday cooking? Make it well done

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When it comes to pork, well done is the safest way to order. Whether you're cooking serving ham for the holidays or ordering pork chops at your favorite restaurant, pork that's not cooked to the point it's well done could put you at risk for infection and illness.

Food and nutrition experts at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say that pork not cooked to an internal temperature of at least 155 degrees F is underdone and could still harbor disease-causing parasites.

Undercooked pork can result in an illness called trichinosis. This illness causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, muscle soreness, and pain and swelling around the eyes.

Dr Vickie Vaclavik, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern, says it's a bad idea to eat any meat that's still red around the bone.

Another kind of meat that's best eaten after it's cooked well done is ground beef. Undercooked ground beef has been known to spread the E. coli bacteria that can cause serious illness or even death.

To protect yourself and your family from food-borne illness, invest in a meat thermometer that will tell you if your meat is thoroughly cooked. Turkey and all poultry should be cooked until juices run clear.

Each year, nearly 76 million people in the United States suffer from food-borne illnesses. More than 5,000 people every year die from these illnesses.

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