Cooking Temperatures: Preventing Foodborne Illness

cooking temperatures

It’s getting hot in here….how hot?

Want to know what was on my Christmas list this year? A meat thermometer. (oh alright, some other stuff too, but a meat thermometer was definitely on there). I have a fear – a rational fear, that is – about getting a foodborne illness. Nobody wants to spend the day in the bathroom because of something that can easily be prevented!

I’m putting on my dorky sanitation/safe food handling hat on today for this post. Cooking temperatures are real, people. And I’d bet that a lot of the population doesn’t even know what that means.

Did you know that every meat has a safety number that the internal temperature should reach before consumption? It’s the easiest way to check a see if your food is ready to be taken out of the oven/off the grill. Internal temperatures mean that the thermometer is placed so the end tip is in the center of the meat – not too close to the edges where the temperature will no doubt be higher.

Also, did you know that there are certain temperatures that your food should reach when reheating it? Killing all bacteria that has grown between cooking it the first time, and storing it is a must.

So let’s get on with it. What are these magic numbers? The USDA is here to help

If you are cooking the following meats, here are those INTERNAL cooking temperatures

  • Beef, Lamb, Pork (steaks, chops, roasts) – AT LEAST 145° F. You may cook it longer depending on how well-done you like it. It’s smart to also let the meat rest for 3 minutes.
  • Ground meat – 160° F and doesn’t need rest time
  • Ham (uncooked) – 145° F and let rest for 3 minutes
  • Precooked Ham – Reheat to 140°-165° F
  • Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing) – 165° F and doesn’t need rest time
  • Eggs – 160° F
  • Fish & Shellfish 145° F and doesn’t need rest time
  • Leftovers are to be reheated to 165° F. It’s important to note that leftovers should be refrigerated immediately after consumption.
  • Casseroles – 165° F

Are you asking what the rest time is all about? It’s important for some meats to rest once removed from the heat source so that the temperature can continue to rise to kill harmful germs.

So what kind of questions do you have about cooking temperatures? Please ask away! Meat thermometers are cheap and easy to use – the one thing to remember is that it is inserted properly to get the best internal temperature.

So let’s get cooking, safely!

Oh and say a little prayer for us east coasters – apparently we are in for a doozy of a storm tonight! BRRRR