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Cooking Temperatures

Ground beef must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius). Using a digital or dial food thermometer is crucial, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, because research results indicate that some ground meat may prematurely brown before a safe internal temperature has been reached. On the other hand, research findings also show that some ground meat patties cooked to 160° F or above may remain pink inside for a number of reasons; thus the color of meat alone is not considered a reliable indicator of ground beef safety. If eating out, order your ground beef to be cooked well-done. Temperatures for other foods to reach to be safe include:

  • beef, lamb and veal--145° F (63° C)
  • pork and ground beef--160° F (71° C)
  • whole poultry and thighs--180° F (82° C)
  • poultry breasts--170° F (77 C) 
  • ground chicken or ground turkey-165° F (74° C)

Seafood should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145° F (63° C). Fish that's ground or flaked, such as a fish cake, should be cooked to at least 155° F (68° C), and stuffed fish to at least 165° F (74° C).

If you don't have a meat thermometer, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is done:

  • For fish, slip the point of a sharp knife into the flesh and pull aside. The edges should be opaque and the center slightly translucent with flakes beginning to separate. Let the fish stand three to four minutes to finish cooking.
  • For shrimp, lobster and scallops, check color. Shrimp and lobster turn red and the flesh becomes pearly opaque. Scallops turn milky white or opaque and firm.
  • For clams, mussels and oysters, watch for the point at which their shells open. Boil three to five minutes longer. Throw out those that stay closed.

When using the microwave, rotate the dish several times to ensure even cooking. Follow recommended standing times. After the standing time is completed, check the seafood in several spots with a meat thermometer to be sure the product has reached the proper temperature.

(Compiled from the FDA Consumer  - latest revision, July 2002)

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