Take the guess work out of cooking: Check out your food’s temperature for safety

Safe internal temperatures of commonly undercooked foods to make sure harmful bacteria have been destroyed.

How do you tell if your burger is safe to eat or your chicken is thoroughly cooked? Many people cut into the food to look at the color and texture to determine if it is done. The only way to make sure the food is safe to eat is to use a food thermometer.

Consuming undercooked food can cause foodborne illness. Young children, older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greater risk but foodborne illness, but it can still affect anyone. To ensure that harmful bacteria have been destroyed, Michigan State University Extension recommends using a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of all food.

One type of thermometer that is easy to use is an instant read food thermometer. This type of thermometer is used after you remove your food from the oven. To get an accurate reading, the thermometer needs to be inserted within the thickest part of the food. Insert the thermometer through the full length of the sensing area, past the indentation on the shaft of the thermometer. For thin foods, insert the thermometer sideways into the food. Be sure to clean the thermometer after each use by using hot, soapy water. Be sure to periodically calibrate the thermometer using the directions on the back of the package. Another option would be an oven safe thermometer. This thermometer would remain in the food while it cooked and would give you a continuous reading.

So what is the correct temperature to cook your food to? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer as each food has its own safe temperature. The United States Department of Agriculture provides a great resource to know what is a safe internal temperature for all foods.

  • Cook all poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook all leftovers and casseroles to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook all ground meats to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook all eggs to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook all beef, pork, veal and lamb steaks and roasts to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and allow to rest for at least three minutes.
  • Cook all fish and shellfish to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook all ham (uncooked) to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and allow to rest for three minutes.

Keep your favorite culinary creation safe by checking the internal temperature of the food. This will help keep your friends, family and yourself free from foodborne illness.

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