After Cooking: Letting Meat “Rest” Can Kill Additional Bacteria

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Food poisoning and letting meat rest after cooking
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Why let meat rest? Letting Meat “Rest” Can Kill Additional Bacteria!

With springtime just around the corner, grill-enthusiasts begin to carefully prepare for their first big cookouts of the season. After a long winter, it is important to brush up on some grilling techniques to optimize food safety. In this article, we will cover importance of letting meat “rest.”

The professionals will tell you to let your 16-ounce sirloin “rest” after pulling it off of the grill. What is “rest time? According to the USDA, rest time is “the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful bacteria.”[1]

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Managing Editor, Food Safety Attorney Tony Coveny, Ph.D.: “According to some experts, letting meat rest can kill additional bacteria.”

Rest time allows for the internal temperature to remain high. There’s an opportunity for the heat to kill of additional lingering bacteria.

It is important to grill your meats to proper internal temperatures. According to the USDA, it is important to “cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source.”[2] The internal temperature for ground beef, like hamburgers, needs to be 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F. While taking food off of the grill, make sure to use an clean, uncontaminated plate.

With remaining leftovers, it is important to use good judgement. According to the USDA, a common cause of foodborne illnesses is due to improperly cooling foods. Letting food rest for three minutes to allow for additional internal cooking is different than leaving food out for over two hours.

Bacteria is ubiquitous and easily can be reintroduced to your cooked sirloin steak that’s been sitting on the counter for three hours. For this reason, you should quickly cool leftovers and refrigerate them within two hours.

[1] https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/05/25/cooking-meat-check-new-recommended-temperatures

[2] https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/How_Temperatures_Affect_Food.pdf

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