Be Food Safe: Cook
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety at home
podcast series. These podcasts were designed with you in mind - the consumer - who
purchases and prepares meat, poultry and processed egg products
for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging from safe storage, handling,
and preparation of meat, poultry and processed egg products to the importance of keeping
foods safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to “Food Safety at Home.” This is Gertie Hurley with the Food Safety and
I’m your host for this segment. With me again is Kathy Bernard from the USDA Meat and
Poultry Hotline. Welcome to the show, Kathy.
Thank you Gertie. I ‘m happy to be here.
We have four food safety messages, clean separate, cook and chill …and have
talked about Clean and Separate in previous episodes…today we are going to talk about
cook. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook, the preparation and cooking of
food can help you to avoid the risk of foodborne illness. Kathy, what is the best way
to know that your food has been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature? Can I
tell by looking?
No, you can't tell by looking. The best way to tell that food has been cooked to a
safe minimum internal temperature is to use a food thermometer. Remember, you can't
tell if food is safely cooked by how it looks.
Kathy, here at USDA we recommend that people cook food to a safe minimum internal
temperature. What do we mean when we use the term, safe minimum internal temperature?
Gertie, I am glad you asked that question. Safe minimum internal temperature means
that the food is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that
can cause foodborne illness.
Kathy, could you give us the safe minimum internal temperatures for cooking meat and poultry?
USDA recommends cooking ground beef and all cuts of pork to a safe minimum internal temperature
of 160 °F. Other meats such as: beef, veal and lamb, steaks and roasts should be cooked
to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145 °F. Poultry, casseroles and leftovers should
reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
What about microwave cooking? Can you give us some pointers on cooking or reheating meat,
and poultry in the microwave?
Yes. Cover the food with a microwave-safe lid, wax paper, or paper towel. As the food
cooks, you also want to stir the food and rotate the dish to prevent cold spots where
bacteria can survive.
How can we get more information on cooking food safely?
Be sure and visit befoodsafe.gov, that’s
befoodsafe.gov for more information on the safe minimum internal temperatures for
That’s it for this session. We’ve been talking to Kathy Bernard from the USDA Meat and
Poultry Hotline Thank you Kathy that was great advice. Next session we will be talking
about the fourth message, CHILL. I’m Gertie Hurley. I’d like to thank you for joining
us for this episode of “Food Safety at Home” and remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that’s all for this time. Thanks for joining us today for another episode of
food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free meat and poultry hotline
at 1-888-mphotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our virtual representative
"ask karen" at www.askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.