Firing up the grill this weekend? Don’t forget food safe temperatures when you’re grilling your food! Protect yourself and guests from foodborne illness by ensuring your meat always reaches a safe internal temperature by using a food thermometer.
Don’t rely upon sight, smell or taste alone to determine if your food is safe to eat. Make sure foods are cooked to a safe minimum internal cooking temperature by using the recommended food safe internal temperatures and measuring with a food thermometer to make sure this temperature is reached.
Food Safety Danger Zone
Do you know what happens when perishable foods are left at (40°F – 140°F) for more than 2 hours? Bacteria like Salmonella, E.coli, and Campylobacter can double in number in as little as 20 minutes!
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The temperature range in which foodborne bacteria can grow is known as the “Danger Zone”. One of the critical factors in controlling bacteria in food is controlling temperature. Pathogenic microorganisms (pathogens) grow very slowly at temperatures below 40°F, multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F, and are destroyed at temperatures above 140°F.
Perishable Foods & the Danger Zone
Perishable foods are foods that are potentially hazardous inside the Danger Zone. They include:
- Meat: beef, poultry, pork, seafood
- Eggs and other protein-rich foods
- Dairy products
- Cut or peeled fresh produce
- Cooked vegetables, beans, rice, pasta
- Sauces, such as gravy
- Any foods containing the above, e.g. casseroles, salads, quiches
Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart
The USDA recommends cooking foods to safe minimum internal temperatures – as measured with a food thermometer – to ensure bacteria is killed and food is safe.
|Product||Min. Internal Temperature & Rest Time|
|Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb
Steaks, chops, roasts
|145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Ground meats||160 °F (71.1 °C)|
|Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked)||145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Fully Cooked Ham
|Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C).|
|Product||Min. Internal Temperature|
|All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing)||165 °F (73.9 °C)|
|Eggs||160 °F (71.1 °C)|
|Fish & Shellfish||145 °F (62.8 °C)|
|Leftovers||165 °F (73.9 °C)|
|Casseroles||165 °F (73.9 °C)|
Foodborne Illness Signs and Symptoms
Foodborne bacteria, in large enough numbers, may cause food poisoning, symptoms similar to gastroenteritis or “stomach flu”. Some of the symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
Foodborne illness is more dangerous for certain vulnerable populations, such as people with weakened immune systems, young children, the elderly, and pregnant women.
Foodborne illness symptoms can begin as early as shortly after and as late as weeks after consumption of the contaminated food.
Steps to Food Safety
Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can’t see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:
- Clean—Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate—Separate raw meat from other foods.
- Cook—Cook to the right temperature.
- Chill—Refrigerate food promptly.
Food Illness Vulnerable Groups
Young children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems should take extra precautions to avoid foodborne illness.