Many cooks believe they can tell if food is done - and safe to eat - by how it looks and feels. However, according to the USDA, recent research has shown that color and texture are unreliable indicators of food temperature safety. Using a food thermometer is the only way to make sure meat, poultry, fish and egg dishes are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful microorganisms.
Food thermometers come in several types and styles. Read the instructions to make sure you are using the thermometer correctly. Generally, it should be placed in the thickest part of the food and should not touch bone, fat, or gristle. Begin checking the temperature toward the end of cooking. Make sure to clean your food thermometer with hot soapy water, and rinse well, before and after each use.
Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F. For safety and quality, allow the meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. Fish should also be cooked to 145°F.
Ground beef, pork and lamb as well as egg dishes should be cooked to 160°F.
Cook all poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Leftovers and casseroles should also be cooked to 165°F.
A food thermometer should also be used to ensure that cooked food is held at safe temperatures until served. Cold foods should be held at 40°F or below. Hot food should be kept at 140°F or above.
Source: Robert Gravani, PhD, Food Science Professor at Cornell University and IFT member
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