Prevent foodborne illness by using a food thermometer

Using a food thermometer when cooking meat and poultry is the only reliable way to make sure you are preparing a safe and delicious meal for your family.

The Michigan State University Extension food safety team recommends using a food thermometer to check the internal temperature when cooking all cuts and sizes of meat and poultry, including hamburgers, chicken breasts and pork chops. Using a food thermometer not only keeps your family safe from harmful food bacteria and foodborne illnesses but it also helps you to avoid overcooking, giving you a safe and flavorful meal.

The stem thermometer is the most popular to measure the internal temperatures of roasts and poultry. Use the thermometer to check the temperature near the end of the cooking time, but before the food is expected to be “done.” The thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food and should not be touching bone, fat or gristle. Check the temperature in several places to make sure the food is evenly heated. If the cut of meat is not deep enough to properly insert the thermometer, such as a steak or hamburger, than insert into the side on an angle to get a reading. 

Compare your thermometer reading to the following recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture to determine if your food has reached a safe temperature. And make sure to clean your thermometer with hot, soapy water before and after each use.

USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures:

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
  • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer.

For more information on food safety visit the United States Department of Agriculture – Food Safety Education website.

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