Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
The best way to make sure cooked food is safe is to:
- Use a clean thermometer which measures the internal temperature of cooked foods, to make sure meat, poultry, casseroles and other foods are cooked all the way through.
- Cook roasts and steaks to at least 145°F. Whole poultry should be cooked to 165°F for doneness.
- Cook ground beef, where bacteria can spread during processing, to at least 155°F. Information from the Centers for Disease Control link eating undercooked, pink ground beef with a higher risk of illness. If a thermometer is not available, do not eat ground beef that is still pink inside.
- Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm (145°F). Avoid recipes where eggs remain raw or partially cooked.
- Fish should be cooked to 145°F, be opaque and flake easily with a fork.
- When cooking in a microwave, make sure there are no cold spots in the food where bacteria can live. For best results, cover the food, stir and rotate it for even cooking. It should reach a temperature of 165°F throughout.
- Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.
- Heat leftovers to at least 165°F.
Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Your refrigerator should be set no higher than 40°F and the freezer should be at 0°F. Check the temperatures with an appliance thermometer.
Follow these steps:
- Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours or sooner.
- Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in the microwave. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
- Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.
- Don't pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.