Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Needed to Cook Meats and Seafood

Habor CP022 Meat Thermometer

Safe minimum cooking temperatures need to be used to kill all potential pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites in meats and seafood.

The safe minimum cooking temperatures are listed in the chart below.  Note that a food thermometer should be used to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum cooking temperature.  The temperatures we talk about are not the temperature of the oven or cooker but the internal temperatures in the foods. That is why  you need to use a food thermometer to measure.

Do not just your eyes to make the judgement.  You can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Any cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.   A food thermometer is needed unless you are experienced enough to know when the meat or seafood is well cooked.

Why the Rest Time is Important

Another thing to consider is the rest time.  Just because you raise the internal temperature to the safe minimum cooking temperature does not mean the process will be sufficient to kill all the pathogenic bacteria, viruses or parasites.  Make sure to allow enough rest time.  The longer the rest time, the more likely  it is for the pathogens of concern to get killed.

After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

How are the safe minimum cooking temperatures determined?

These safe minimum cooking temperatures are minimal.  A higher temperature can kill harmful agents more easily.   But in the meantime, it can destroy more nutrients and potentially negatively impact the desired texture for a particular food.  So a safe minimum cooking temperature is determined based largely on food safety but not the nutritional value or the taste.

Category Food Temperature (°F)  Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking. None
Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. None


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