What Temperature to Cook your Food at and What Happens if You Don’t: A Primer on Meat Temperatures
Knowing what temperature to cook your foods at is very important when preparing a meal. If you are not careful, then you could make yourself and whoever you are cooking for, very ill. Meats, which accompany so many meals in the U.S., fall into several different categories. There is pork, fish, chicken, beef, ham, and more. I am going to tell you what temperatures to cook them at, and what could happen if you don’t.
If you are cooking chicken, a safe temperature to set your oven on to is three hundred and fifty to three hundred and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking at lower temperatures risks allowing bacteria to spread and not reaching a proper internal temperature. In any event, once you have cooked it for the proper amount of time, the internal temperature needs to be at least one-hundred and sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. The thermometer needs to be placed into the meat in a thick spot, reaching closest to the center of the meat as possible to make sure that the internal temperature is reached in all of the meat.
The internal cooking temperature for lamb and ground beef is at one hundred and sixty degrees Fahrenheit. Again, you can find the internal temperature by using an instant-read thermometer and sticking it in the deepest part of the whatever meat you are cooking, such as a leg of lamb or a roast or meatloaf. To book non-ground beef, for medium you serve once it’s at one hundred and forty-five degrees. Some people even eat beef at lower internal temperatures (rare is 125 degrees, but this includes room-temperature), and while there is always some risk in eating anything not cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria, if the external surfaces of the beef are seared, this is not uncommon.
Now, do you know what internal temperature fish needs to be at for you to eat? Well, it isn’t too difficult to remember. The internal temperature needed to cook at fish is follows that of non-ground beef that is served medium – one hundred and forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Most cooks can view this visually by cooking the fish until the flesh separates easily with a fork. Commonly, shrimp and other shell fish are also cooked until “visually” they are opaque in coloring.
So What can Happen if I Fail to Cook Meat to a Proper Temperature?
If you do not cook chicken, fish, or other meats to the proper temperature, then you are exposing yourself and your loved ones to different types of food poisoning like E.coli, salmonella, Klebsiella, Enterococcus, Campylobacter, and more. The symptoms of these illnesses include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and a number of other symptoms. Other bacteria, like botulism and ciguatoxin, or scombroid, can have different symptoms that may even appear neurological, such a symptoms that look like paralysis or a stroke.
With any of these types of food poisoning, your child, family members, or you could become very ill, including requiring hospitalization. Food poisoning, which affects 48 million in the US annually costs billions in medical expenses, lost wages, and down time. So, stay safe by always having a few digital thermometers in the kitchen, using them properly, and cooking all your foods (especially meat)to the proper temperatures.