Food safety and food thermometers

Food thermometers are critical to ensuring your food is cooked safely.

Meat thermometer

According to the Food Safety Inspection Service, “The best and only way to make sure bacteria have been killed and food is safe to eat is by cooking it to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer.” Recent research by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration found that only 34% of the public use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year, causing an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

When cooking meat, poultry and egg products, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service advises that the only dependable way to check the safety and doneness is to use a food thermometer. Consumers commonly use color to determine the doneness of food, but color, texture, firmness or shrinkage are not trustworthy indicators of a safely cooked product. Using these indicators may make food tough and dry, whereas using a food thermometer can ensure that the food has reached a safe temperature and is not overcooked.

Cooking foods to their correct safe temperatures will destroy the pathogenic microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness. A food thermometer is considered one of the most important tools in controlling bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria. Safe minimum internal cooking temperatures vary depending on the food. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests cooking all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and all poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For individual preferences, you may choose to cook to higher temperatures.

There are many varieties of food thermometers, including digital, oven-safe bimetallic, instant-read bimetallic and thermistors. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the type you choose and use it in your everyday meal preparation.

Using the internal temperature guidelines from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service will give you the confidence that the food you are cooking for your family is done as well as safe.


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