Whenever you’re cooking any kind of meat, it’s important to be careful about preparation and ensure that meat is fully cooked. We all know how crucial proper cooking is to preventing harmful bacteria from being harbored in the food and making us sick, and for many people, the look of meat is a key determiner in whether it’s safe to eat.
If you’ve just cooked an Italian sausage and you’ve noticed that the inside of the meat is a little pink, you might be feeling concerned about whether the meat is safe to consume. You don’t want to cook sausages too much or they get dry and unpleasant, but equally, you don’t want to be eating raw sausage meat.
Can Italian sausage be a little pink? Yes, a tiny bit of pink in the middle of an Italian sausage is not something to worry about. If they have salt in them, the meat can retain its pink color, rather than turning gray when cooked. As long as your sausages are fresh and you’ve cooked them properly, it should be fine to eat them.
Why is My Italian Sausage Still Pink When Cooked?
There are a few potential explanations for your sausages to stay pink even once they have been cooked. For example, the sausage may be pink because it has been minced, it contains lots of salt, or it has paprika in it. Any of these can mean that the sausage stays pink even when you know it’s fully cooked.
Firstly, minced meat often remains pink even when fully cooked, so your sausages are more likely to stay pink than other meat that has not been minced. This is nothing to worry about.
Equally, having a lot of salt in the sausage can cause it to retain its pink color even when it is totally cooked. Salt is used to cure and preserve meat, and many salted meats retain their color better. If your sausages have lots of salt in them, they are much more likely to keep their color after they have been cooked.
You can also see this in foods like bacon. After all, bacon retains its red or pink color even when properly cooked, and this is because the high salt content is preserving the meat and keeping its color intact. The same happens with sausages sometimes.
A third possible reason for your Italian sausage appearing pink is that these sausages often contain spices such as paprika – which is red in color. This can alter the color of the cooked sausage and make the meat appear pinker than it actually is. If there is a lot of paprika in the sausage, it’s much more likely to have a pink tint when cooked.
Pinkness in your sausages doesn’t mean that they are raw or unsafe to eat. Any of these factors, or a combination of them, could be responsible for the pinkness.
How Do You Know If Pink Italian Sausages Are Safe To Eat?
Slightly pink Italian sausages are safe to eat if you have followed the cooking instructions properly and heated them to the appropriate temperature. The pinkness is not an indication of how well-cooked the sausages are; as long as you have followed directions properly, they should be fully cooked.
The best way to check if your sausages have reached a safe temperature to kill food-borne bacteria is to use a thermometer. This can be inserted into the sausage without having to cut it open, and will ensure that the sausage has reached the correct temperature.
Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for this, but most Italian sausages should be heated to about 170° F to kill any hint of bacteria. You should check that the center of the sausage has reached this temperature by inserting the thermometer into the middle – don’t just check the sausage’s surface temperature.
You can also check that meat is cooked by gently squashing it under your hand. A cooked sausage should be firm, but not shriveled, when you press on it lightly. It should not feel raw.
Don’t cut your sausages open to test whether they are cooked. This is a bad way to check because it releases juices from the middle of the sausage, giving you a much drier and less pleasant meal.
It also causes problems if your sausages still need more cooking. If you put them back in the pan, the center is now exposed to the air, and you will have to check the new center next time you want to know if they are done. This can result in very dried out sausages, especially if you are an impatient cook who frequently checks the food!
If you notice a bit of pinkness in the sausage when you cut it open to eat it, you don’t need to panic. As long as you have followed the cooking instructions and the meat feels cooked, it should be perfectly safe to consume. If the meat looks raw, however, do not eat it.
What are the Dangers of Uncooked Sausages?
If you’re curious about what you might risk by eating an uncooked (or under-cooked) sausage, one of the major food-borne illnesses you might come across is Trichinosis. This is often found in undercooked pork products, and can cause headaches, fevers, diarrhea, and chills.
You shouldn’t eat sausages that haven’t been well-cooked, but you don’t want to over-cook your sausages either. An under-cooked sausage is a health hazard, while an over-cooked sausage can be very unpleasant.
Following the cooking instructions should be enough to keep you safe from under-cooked sausages, so always make sure you have read these (along with the instructions for safely storing the meat before and after cooking).
Italian sausages can be a little pink and still be perfectly safe to consume. This pinkness may be caused by salt, the mincing of the meat, or spices such as paprika that have been added to the sausage. It won’t do you any harm. However, you should pay attention to the meat’s texture as well as its color in determining if a sausage is has been properly cooked.