Doing a temperature test takes less than a minute and helps you avoid foodborne illness. Why not?

By Betty Gold
Updated April 17, 2020
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Because bacteria naturally exists in all raw meat, taking its temperature is the only way to make sure your meat has been cooked enough to eliminate potentially harmful bacteria that could cause food poisoning. Using food thermometers while cooking could prevent many of the 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year. So congrats! You've made it this far, which means that you're planning to take the temperature of a piece of meat.

The first step is to grab an instant read thermometer. These are widely available and super affordable, plus they take the guesswork out of searinggrilling, or roasting meat. Next, insert it into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding bones, fat, and gristle. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises starting to check the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before you expect it to be done. Be sure to clean your food thermometer with hot soapy water before and after each use.

To see exactly where to place a food thermometer in different cuts of meat, see the USDA's Thermometer Placement and Temperatures guide. For accurate information on cooking temperatures for all types of food, you'll find information sources from their Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart below. Here are the preferred cooking temperatures—considered safe by experts—for meats and seafood cooked to juicy perfection.*

Poultry

White Meat

160° Fahrenheit

70° Celsius

Dark Meat

165° Fahrenheit

75° Celsius

Ground Poultry

165° Fahrenheit

75° Celsius

Beef

Rare

115° Fahrenheit

40° Celsius

Medium-Rare

130° Fahrenheit

55° Celsius

Medium

140° Fahrenheit

60° Celsius

Medium-Well

150° Fahrenheit

65° Celsius

Well-Done

155 °Fahrenheit

70° Celsius

Ground Beef

160° Fahrenheit

70° Celsius

Pork

Medium

145° Fahrenheit

65° Celsius

Well-Done

160° Fahrenheit

70° Celsius

Ground Pork

160° Fahrenheit

70° Celsius

Lamb

Medium-Rare

130° Fahrenheit

55° Celsius

Medium

140° Fahrenheit

60° Celsius

Medium-Well

150° Fahrenheit

65° Celsius

Well-Done

155° Fahrenheit

70° Celsius

Ground Lamb

160° Fahrenheit

70° Celsius

Seafood

Fish With Fins

145° Fahrenheit (65° Celsius) or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork

Shrimp, Lobster, Crab, and Scallops

Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque

Clams, Oysters, Mussels

Cook until shells open during cooking

*For maximum food safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 165° F for all poultry; 160° F for ground beef, lamb, and pork; and 145° F, with a 3-minute resting period, for all other types of beef, lamb, and pork.