Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Food Safety Part Three:

By Indiana Board of Animal Health's Denise Derrer

This is part three in a four part series. Part One, Part Two


Contrary to popular belief, the internal color of meat and poultry products is NOT a good indicator about whether or not the food item is safe to eat.  Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature has reached a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illness.  The safe temperature varies among meat and poultry products. 

To help spread the safe-cooking message, Fight BAC!® has brought along his friend Thermy to say, “Cook it right, and keep it hot.”

Studies have shown one of four hamburgers turns brown before it has reached the proper internal temperature.  The opposite can also occur.  Most individuals tend to over-cook their meat and poultry foods thus causing the flavorful juices to dry up as well.  A meat thermometer can help avoid both extremes of too high and too low.   

Hot foods served buffet-style should be kept at 140° F or higher.  This can be accomplished using slow cookers and warming trays.  Foods that are transported to parties should be kept steaming hot before and during serving.  The dishes should be transported in insulated thermal containers until they are ready to be eaten.  

Microwaves have been the working person’s best friend for decades now, but this kitchen appliance can cause food safety hazards.  Cold spots can become an oasis for bacteria in foods, such as casseroles or soup, cooked or reheated in the microwave.  Thermy recommends covering food, stirring and rotating food for even cooking to eliminate the cold spots and to kill the harmful bacteria. 

To help you cook safe, flavorful foods the food safety kit giveaway comes with an instant-read thermometer and jar grippers that list the safe cooking temperatures for common meat and poultry items. Don't forget to comment on our facebook page to enter to win.

Additional tips about meat and poultry cooking temperatures can be found on the Indiana State Board of Animal Health website,, or the Fight BAC!® webpage  

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