Have you used your food thermometer lately?

Cooking to proper internal temperatures checked with a food thermometer is the best way to beat foodborne illness.

Have you used your food thermometer lately? Do you have a thermometer in your kitchen at home? According to Healthy People 2020 Data, food safety steps around proper cooking are the least followed food safety practices among consumers. 

  • 88.6 percent of consumers followed the key food safety practice of separation
  • 88.1 percent of consumers followed the key food safety practice of chilling
  • 67.2 percent of consumers followed the key food safety practice of cleaning
  • 36.9 percent of consumers followed the key food safety practice of cooking

Michigan State University Extension recommends that when cooking, a food thermometer is always used to check for proper internal temperatures. Checking those internal food temperatures with a thermometer is the only way to know that your food item is truly done and ready to consume. Using the color of the meat is not an accurate method for testing the doneness of the food item. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reports that even if hamburgers look fully cooked, one in four hamburgers may not be safely cooked. Yet only six percent of home cooks use a food thermometer for hamburgers and only 10 percent use a food thermometer for chicken breasts, according to the latest data from the food safety survey conducted by FSIS and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Foods are safely cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Cooking to the minimum internal cooking temperatures will kill the harmful bacteria.

Follow the minimum internal cooking temperatures listed below.

Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb
Turkey, Chicken
160
165
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145
Poultry

Chicken & Turkey, whole
Poultry breasts, roasts
Poultry thighs, legs, wingsDuck & Goose
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)

165
165
165
165
165
Pork and Ham Fresh pork
Fresh ham (raw)
Precooked ham (to reheat)
145
145
140
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs
Egg dishes
Cook until yolk and white are firm
160
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers
Casseroles
165
165
Seafood Fish 145

Thermometers are an inexpensive tool to help keep your food safe. They can be purchased at hardware stores, grocery stores, kitchen stores or large department stores. Once you have your thermometer, here are a couple tips for using it:

  • Wash your food thermometer with hot, soapy water before and after each use.
  • Insert the food thermometer into the thickest part of the food, making sure it doesn’t touch bone, fat or gristle. After 15 seconds read the thermometer. Take a temperature reading in two places since the temperatures can vary in the food item.
  • Follow the minimum internal cooking temperatures listed above.

Keep your food safe using your food thermometer every time you cook.

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