USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella that may be associated with pork products.

FSIS was notified of Salmonella illness clusters in July. FSIS officials suspects there is a link between whole pigs used for pig roasts and eight illness clusters based on information gathered in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health and CDC.

This investigation is ongoing. FSIS continues to work with the Washington State Department of Health and the CDC on this investigation.

Because roasting a pig is a complex process that can be easily compromised by food handling issues, FSIS urges consumers to keep four food safety tips in mind: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

CLEAN: Obtain your pig from a reputable supplier. Have the supplier wrap it in plastic, or a large plastic bag to contain the juices. Keep the pig cold until it is time to cook it. If you can’t keep it under refrigeration or on ice, consider picking it up just before you are ready to cook it.

SEPARATE: Anything that comes into contact with whole pig should be washed with hot soapy water afterwards. This includes hands and utensils.

COOK: FSIS recommends that all pork products are cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145º F with a three minute rest time. Make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in several places. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.

 CHILL: Once the meat is cooked, transfer to clean serving dishes. Pack leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate within 1-2 hours. It is not necessary to cool before you refrigerate it.