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Cooking Dinner: The One Important Step You’re Forgetting

Food Thermometer - TheCuttingBoard.org

Use a Food Thermometer

Why are cooking temperatures so important? Well, according to a recent study, 97 percent of chicken breasts contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. No need to worry though, because you can kill this harmful bacteria in chicken and other foods if you cook food to a safe temperature.

You can’t rely on sight, smell or even taste to determine if food is done. The only way to tell if food is cooked to the correct temperature is with a food thermometer, so always use one.  In fact, according to a recent UC Davis study, 40 percent of participants undercooked their chicken, regardless of preparation method and only 29 percent knew chicken’s correct USDA recommended temperature of 165°F. Avoid undercooking your food by using a food thermometer.

Proof From the Experts 

Don’t believe it? According to Joan Salge Blake, registered dietitian nutritionist and food safety expert, “Hamburger meat that’s still pink may be well-done while meat that’s brown may be undercooked. This proves you can’t trust color alone to determine if your food is done.” In fact, one in four burgers turns brown before it reaches a safe temperature.

To find which temperature to cook meats and other foods, see the complete list of proper cooking temperatures, as different foods have different safe minimum internal cooking temperatures.

On-the-go? Download the Is My Food Safe? app and check out the Is It Done Yet? feature on safe cooking temperatures.

Teach kids how to read a food thermometer with the Food Thermometer Worksheet.

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