Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Needed to Cook Meats and Seafood

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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.

CategoryFoodTemperature (°F) Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat MixturesBeef, Pork, Veal, Lamb160None
Turkey, Chicken165None
Fresh Beef, Veal, LambSteaks, roasts, chops1453 minutes
PoultryChicken & Turkey, whole165None
Poultry breasts, roasts165None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings165None
Duck & Goose165None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)165None
Pork and HamFresh pork1453 minutes
Fresh ham (raw)1453 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat)140None
Eggs & Egg DishesEggsCook until yolk and white are firmNone
Egg dishes160None
Leftovers & CasserolesLeftovers165None
Casseroles165None
SeafoodFin Fish145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabsCook until flesh is pearly and opaque.None
Clams, oysters, and musselsCook until shells open during cooking.None
ScallopsCook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.None

 

For more information on food safety, visit foodsafety.gov

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