Meat Temperatures: What’s Safe?

Meat Temperatures

May 19, 2014: 1.8 million pounds of ground beef recalled for E. coli concerns.

May 16, 2014: 222,000 pounds of pork and poultry recalled due to lack of inspection.

February 18, 2014: Nearly 9 million pounds of beef recalled because — according to the USDA — the meat purveyor “processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection.”

Oh heavens. Sometimes I wonder why I still eat meat.

But I do! So as grilling season begins, it’s good to refresh the memory on safe meat temperatures. After all, E. coli may be good for making diesel fuel, but you don’t want it in your burger. How hot should that patty be? Read on for the USDA’s recommendations.

Category Food Temperature (°F)  Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking. None
Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. None

Don’t forget the resting time where recommended. Meat continues to cook to its safest temperature after it has been removed from the oven or grill — also known as “carryover cooking.” Many chefs and foodies (myself included) recommend letting all cooked meat rest for at least 10 minutes so the juices distribute themselves evenly throughout the food.

Looking for a quality food thermometer? Cook’s Illustrated recommends the pricey-but-awesome Thermapen (which has been on my wish list for quite some time, hint, hint). It also highlights a less expensive alternative — the CDN DTQ450X — which is less than 20 bucks on Amazon.

Happy grilling y’all!

Image Credit: Sliced Beef via Shutterstock

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4 thoughts on “Meat Temperatures: What’s Safe?”

  1. Thanks for the info and the thermometer recommendation. My husband (our BBQ chef) could use a new one. He has one that must be a slow-read thermometer and he’s as warm as the meat by the time the thermometer registers correctly.

  2. I know, right!?! By the time the thermometer quits moving, the meat has already been eaten! Thanks for commenting!

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