Is it done yet? A guide to safely cooking meat

Tips on how to check for doness of meat and cook meat safely.

Summer is BBQ or grilling season here in Michigan. Some of our favorites to grill are fresh summer vegetables, burgers, chicken, fish and steaks, are popular items on the menu. Taking safe steps in preparing, cooking, and storing food is essential to prevent contracting a foodborne illness (U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA). Michigan State University Extension, USDA and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) provide some helpful tips on safely cooking meat.

Clean: wash hands and surface often.

Separate: separating raw meat, poultry, or eggs from other foods can prevent foodborne bacteria from spreading.

Cook: cook meat to the right internal temperature.

Chill: refrigerate cooked food promptly and store raw meat on the bottom shelf separating from other foods.

The USDA recommends to cook meat to the following minimum internal temperature by checking internal temperatures of foods with a food thermometer.


Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time*

Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb
Steaks, chops, roasts

145 degrees Farenheit (62.8 degrees Celcius) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes

Ground meats

160 F (71.1 C)

Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked)

145 F (62.8 C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes

Fully Cooked Ham
(to reheat)

Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 F (60 C) and all others to 165 F (73.9 C).



Minimum Internal Temperature

All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing)

165 F (73.9 C)


160 F (71.1 C)

Fish & Shellfish

145 F (62.8 C)


165 F (73.9 C)


165 F (73.9 C)

(Source: USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart)

*Rest time is defined as the amount of time that food is allowed to rest after removed from a grill, a stove, or other heat source.

Michigan State University Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families, and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating and food safety. For more health and nutrition tips, visit Michigan State University Extension.

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