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Cooking temperatures

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Undercooking meat, poultry and other foods can be very dangerous.

Raw meat and poultry can contain harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter and E. coli that can cause food poisoning.

Fortunately, these harmful microorganisms can be destroyed by cooking food to the correct temperature.

Cooking meat and poultry 

Different meats require different cooking temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria.

For example, a steak need only be seared on the outside and can be rare inside, while minced meat must be carefully cooked to destroy bacteria. That’s because minced meat has far greater surface area than steak and the inside has been exposed to the atmosphere, and is therefore at greater risk of bacterial contamination.

One way is to simply cook minced meat, sausages and poultry right through to the centre. No pink should be visible and juices should run clear.

Using this method should ensure your meat and poultry is free from harmful bacteria, although what constitutes "pink" and "clear running juices" might differ from person to person, and colour is not always a reliable indicator. It’s a good idea to invest in a food thermometer and use it.

Invest in a thermometer

A food thermometer helps you make sure all potentially harmful bacteria have been destroyed through proper cooking.

A thermometer shows you the exact temperature inside the food so you can be sure it’s cooked all the way through. 

They are not expensive. Good quality and accurate thermometers cost around $15 and are available from most homeware stores.

Using a thermometer

Simply insert the probe portion of the thermometer into the cooked/cooking meat and note the temperature on the dial.

Different foods require different cooking temperatures to destroy bacteria, which is why a thermometer is such a handy addition to the kitchen. It is important you don't put the thermometer into the oven with cooking meat unless the manufacturer states this is acceptable.

Where to place the meat thermometer:

  • poultry - insert the thermometer into the inner thigh area near the breast of the chicken or turkey, but not touching bone
  • ground meats and poultry - the thermometer should also be placed in the thickest area of ground meat or poultry dishes like meatloaf
  • beef, pork, lamb, veal, ham - roasts, steaks or chops – insert the thermometer into the centre of the thickest part, away from bone, fat and gristle
  • casseroles and egg dishes - the thermometer should be inserted into the thickest portion.
Meat type Safe temperatures

Fish:

63ºC

Minced meat, sausages:

71ºC

Beef, veal, lamb, pork

medium rare:

medium:

well done:

 

63ºC - allow at least 3 minutes for the meat to rest

71ºC

77ºC

Ham

fresh (raw):

precooked (to reheat):

 

71ºC

60ºC

Chicken and turkey (whole), thighs, wings legs, breasts:

74ºC

Leftovers:

60ºC

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