USDA: Using Thermometers to Increase Summer Food Safety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently released a statement emphasizing the use thermometers to ensure meat and poultry are cooked to a safe temperature. The statement is especially timely as activities involving grilling (e.g. barbecues) increase over the summer months and includes four FSIS recommendations on how to avoid foodborne illness resulting from the consumption of improperly cooked meat and/or poultry:

  1. “Clean: Make sure to always wash your hands and surfaces with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat or poultry. If cooking outside or away from a kitchen, pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
  2. Separate: When taking food off of the grill, use clean utensils and platters. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.
  3. Cook: Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat and poultry. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food.
    • Hamburgers, sausages and other ground meats should reach 160°F.
    • All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165°F.
    • Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal, and of beef should be cooked to 145°F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, and allowed to rest for three minutes before eating. A “rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.
    • Fish should be cooked to 145°F.
    • Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, and by using a food thermometer you can be sure items have reached a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.
  4. Chill: Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Discard food that has been sitting out longer than two hours.”

Click here to read the full statement.

About Anastasia Sonneman

Anastasia Sonneman serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in environmental health, health and disability, and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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