Whether you’re grilling, baking, braising, or broiling, cooking food to the proper internal temperature is a key element to preventing foodborne illnesses. Monitoring the internal temperature of meat, poultry, fin fish, and eggs will also help prevent overcooking, which means your meals will be just as delicious as they are safe. You can choose to cook them to a higher temperature if you prefer it.
USDA Recommended Minimum Internal Cooking Temperatures and Rest Time
|Food Item||Temperature (F)||Temperature (C)||Rest Time|
|Steaks and Roasts|
(Beef, veal, lamb and pork)
Includes fresh, uncooked ham
(Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb)
|Fully Cooked Ham (reheating)||140||60||None|
|Fish - Fin Fish||145 or until the flesh is opaque and you can easily separate it with a fork.||62.8||None|
|Seafood - shrimp, lobster, crabs, scallops||Cook until the flesh is pearly and opaque.||None|
|Seafood in the shell - clams, oysters, mussels||Cook until the shells open.||None|
|Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Goose, including breasts, roasts, thighs, wings, legs||165||73.9||None|
|Whole Chickens and Turkeys||165||73.9||None|
|Stuffing (in the bird or separately cooked)||165||73.9||None|
|Leftovers and Casseroles||165||73.9||None|
|Eggs||Cook until the yolk and white are firm.||None|
How to Take the Internal Temperature of Meat and Fish When Cooking
Be sure to use a well made, reliable probe thermometer when testing the internal temperature of your foods.
- Always place the probe into the thickest part of the meat as this is likely to be the area exposed to the least amount of heat.
- Never touch the probe to bone or cooking surfaces, which can conduct heat and give a falsely increased temperature reading.
- Always thoroughly wash the thermometer with warm soapy water after each use to prevent cross-contamination. Bacteria can linger on the thermometer if you don't wash it. Then it would be transferred to the next food item touched by the thermometer.
Rest Time for Steaks, Roasts, and Chops
These cuts of meat will continue to have their internal temperature rise after you take them off the of the heat source. The three-minute rest time for these cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb allows the temperature to rise and continue to kill any harmful bacteria.
Don't take these cuts of meat out of the pan or off of the grill and immediately slice them. Let them sit for three minutes before you cut into them.
How Does the Minimum Internal Temperature Make Meat and Fish Safer?
Bacteria that can make you sick, such as Salmonella and E. coli are killed by temperatures of 165 F and above. These bacteria are commonly found on raw meat, fish, and poultry. If you cook foods to the suggested minimum temperature and allow rest time as suggested, you will ensure enough are killed so you are unlikely to get sick from them.
Bacteria grow best between 40 F and 140 F, known as the danger zone. You should always chill uneaten portions as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of time that the food is in this danger zone.
Ideally, cooked food should be chilled to below 40 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours of cooking.
Be sure to keep raw meat separate from other foods so bacteria aren't transferred from them to food you won't be cooking, such as salads. Use separate cutting boards, knives, bowls, and other utensils for raw meat and other food.
Safe minimum cooking temperatures. https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html.