In our last blog post on the four elements of basic food safety practices—CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK and CHILL—we discussed how to SEPARATE food and items to avoid illness-causing cross-contamination. Now, let’s talk about COOKing foods to their safe internal temperature.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have established food cooking recommendations. Primarily, always check the internal temperature of COOKed foods using a food thermometer to ensure that your foods are cooked safely. Don’t rely on appearance or color. And, whether cooking at your stove or oven, grilling outdoors, or using the microwave to reheat food from the refrigerator, always follow the minimum internal temperature guidance.
At a glance:
- Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of foods. Check the internal temperature in several places to make sure the meat, poultry, seafood, or egg products are cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures.
- Cook ground beef to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and ground poultry to 165 F.
- Reheat fully cooked hams packaged at a USDA-inspected plant to 140 F. For fully cooked ham that has been repackaged in any other location or for leftover fully cooked ham, heat to 165 F.
- Cook seafood to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook clams, mussels, and oysters until the shells open. If the shells do not open, do not eat the oyster inside.
- Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Use recipes in which the eggs are cooked or heated to 160 F.
- Cook all raw beef, lamb, port and veal steaks, roasts, and chops to 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a 3-minute rest time after removal from the heat source.
- Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.
- Heat leftover foods to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Reheat hot dogs, luncheon meats, bologna, and other deli meats to 165 degrees Fahrenheit .
- When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during the cooking process. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
Remember, you can’t tell if your food is safely cooked just by looking. Always use the USDA/FDA-recommended safe minimum internal temperature chart.