Yes, sausages can stay pink even after cooking. This doesn’t mean the meat is undercooked but rather that it is cooked just right. You should also keep in mind that salt treatments can cause a pink tint.
A lot of my friends have kids now which makes them a bit more concerned about food safety. I have had more than one person ask me if the pink color in hot dogs means that it is raw inside. So, I decided to create a post to clear things up once and for all!
In this post I will answer the question “can sausage be pink” and explain when the pink color is safe and when it hints at undercooked food. Let’s get started!
We have all been there – you slice into a cooked sausage only to find that it is still pink in the middle. After all, it can be tricky to know if you are cooking sausage all the way through since you can only heat and cook the experience.
Can sausage be pink and still cooked all the way through?
The answer to this is yes! Pink sausage is not a sign that your sausage is undercooked. And so, as long as you have made sure to cook it to the right internal temperature – 160 F, you can guarantee that the pink sausage is safe to eat.
Keep in mind that there should only be a small portion of the sausage that is pink. A little pink color is fine, too much pink means that the sausage is undercooked.
In case you are wondering can sausage be pink all over and still safe to consume, the answer is no!
The thing to keep in mind is that the ground meat that is used in sausage is more prone to bacteria contamination.
See, if there are any bacteria on a small portion of the meat or on the machinery, this is eventually ground throughout the entire batch. This means that it is more likely for there to be large amounts of bacteria in your sausage if it is contaminated.
This is why you have to cook sausages to a higher temperature than burgers, steaks, etc. It is only by cooking the sausages to the right internal temperature that you will be able to kill all the bacteria.
As you are aware, there are a lot of types of sausages – pork sausages, Italian sausages, beef sausages, chicken sausages, and more!
In this case:
Is it fine for all sausages to be pink?
Let’s begin with pork sausages – for the longest time, people were worried about eating pork that wasn’t cooked thoroughly – undercooked pork sausage, in particular. This is due to a parasite known as trichinosis. In reality, though, it is rare for people to contract this parasite.
Due to this, as long as you cook your pork sausages at 165 F, you will be just fine. In fact, a little bit of pink in the middle of your pork sausage is a good thing. It shows that your sausage will be nice and juicy rather than overcooked.
The same rule can be applied to Italian sausage as well. This is because most Italian sausage is largely made up of ground pork. Due to this, it is fine for the sausage to be a bit pink.
Well, then what about ground beef sausages? Well, it is unlikely that you will find much pink in a beef sausage as the meat tends to have a reddish hue. However, for both beef and pork sausages, as long as you cook them to 165 F, they are safe to eat.
When it comes to poultry, the story is a bit different – so if you want to prepare chicken sausage or turkey sausage, you should be wary of pinkness. This is because turkey or chicken sausage should have a more white tinge on the inside and brown on the exterior.
This is how you know that you don’t have undercooked chicken sausages on your hands.
Once again, though, the best way to prevent undercooked chicken sausage or turkey is to go by the internal temperature. This way, you take the guesswork out of the equation when it comes to fully cooked turkey sausages or chicken sausages.
Also, I do want to mention that pink sausage isn’t the norm for all sausages. Breakfast sausage, cured or smoked sausage and some Italian sausage will have a brownish interior. This is completely fine as they are simply different types of sausage.
Now, it isn’t too surprising to know why fresh sausages are pink in color. After all, a lot of raw ground meat is slightly pink.
So now that you know the answer to can sausage be pink, why are cooked sausages sometimes still pink?
Well, some of this has to do with the preservatives that are added to the sausage. There are some curing salts that turn the meat pink. This effect isn’t impacted by heat so the sausages will continue to be pink.
Also, sausages are more heavily seasoned than before. And, some of these seasonings like cayenne pepper or other colored seasonings may turn the meat pink. So, pink sausage is no big deal, really.
The other thing is that for the longest time, people assumed that pink meant undercooked meat. The rules regarding food safety were a lot more extreme several years ago.
As such, people were advised to cook sausages and other meat at very high temperatures. This meant that the meat ended up being brown both inside and out. The problem was that this meat also ended up overcooked, dry, and rather tasteless to boot.
Since then, the various agencies have amended their recommendations and people have been able to heat their food to lower temperatures and still avoid food poisoning.
This is why the answer to can sausage be pink and still safe to eat is yes.
Now, determining if sausages are cooked properly is no easy task. This is because unlike with other types of meat, you can’t really see what is happening inside.
Also, when checking to see if the sausage is cooked properly, you have to avoid breaking the seal on the casing. If you do this, you will release the liquid inside the sausages and you are going to end up with dry sausages.
Due to this, you have to use a food thermometer carefully.
To do this, you have to first check the internal temperature towards the end of the cooking process. So, if the manufacturer has suggested cooking the sausages in a frying pan for several minutes on each side, then do this.
Right before you think you should take the sausages off the pan, insert the thermometer into the puckered end of the sausage. This way, you don’t puncture the casing.
Check that the internal temp is 160 F. If it is, it can be taken off the heat. Otherwise, leave it for another 30 seconds and check the pork, chicken, beef, or turkey sausage’s doneness.
When the sausages are perfectly cooked, take them off the heat and let them rest for a couple of minutes.
If you have ever wondered can sausage be pink and still safe to eat, you now know the truth! So, you can happily enjoy your pink sausage and have peace of mind knowing your family is safe.
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