Cook food to safe temperatures – it’s important to your health

It’s spring and so it’s grilling time. Safely cooking food is a matter of temperature. Foods need to reach a high enough internal temperature to kill bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

Color is not a reliable indicator of safety. According to the United States Department of Agriculture research, one in four hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature. The best way to make sure that meat, poultry, seafood, egg products, leftovers and casseroles are cooked to safe temperatures, is to use a food thermometer.

Following are the USDA minimum internal cooking temperatures.


• Beef, pork, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops are to be cooked to 145ºF and then held at that temperature for 3 minutes before eating.

• Fish should be cooked to 145ºF.

• Ground beef, pork, veal and lamb should be cooked to a temperature of 160ºF.

• All eggs and egg dishes should reach 160ºF.

• Poultry, whole, pieces and ground need to reach 165ºF.

Tips for using a food thermometer.

• A food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food, making sure not to touch bone, fat or gristle.

• Check the temperature in at least two places in the thickest part of the food.

• Always wash, rinse and air dry your thermometer after each use.

• Calibrate your thermometer regularly to make sure it is accurate.

• Fill a large container with crushed ice. Add water until the water covers the ice.

• Put the thermometer stem into the ice water so that the sensing area, which is 2 inches for a regular food thermometer, is completely submerged. Wait 30seconds or until the dial stops moving.

• Hold the calibration nut, which is under the dial, and rotate the head of the thermometer until it reads 32°F (0°C).

No matter how you cook always us a food thermometer to make sure your food is safe. It is one way to help keep you, your friends and family safe and healthy.

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