The Importance of Using a Food Thermometer

food-thermometer-300x199Food thermometers are used to determine the internal temperatures of food items such as eggs, beef, poultry and much more. Anyone who has had food safety training understands that using a thermometer to take the temperature of food is the only way to accurately measure whether or not the product has been thoroughly cooked. Because bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria can live and grow in uncooked food, ensuring that these items have reached their proper cooking temperatures will also guarantee that any lingering bacteria is killed in the process. This means that using a food thermometer can actually help prevent food-borne illnesses and food poisoning. Read on to find out more about cooking temperatures and the importance of using this handy tool.

Understanding Internal Cooking Temperatures

Experts with HACCP certification know that there are different safe internal cooking temperatures for different food items. There are also recommended storage temperatures for these foods, because once a meal is fully cooked, it’s important to safely store any leftovers that might be consumed at a later date. These temperatures vary depending on the way an item is cut, prepared or packaged. For example, poultry that is prepared whole should be cooked at a minimum temperature of 85°C (185°F), however if poultry is prepared in pieces, the cooking temperature can be slightly reduced to 74°C (165°F). Additionally, a whole chicken or turkey can be stored in a freezer for an entire year, whereas pieces of poultry can only remain frozen for 6 to 9 months to be deemed safe for consumption.

Choosing the Right Food Thermometer

Not only is it crucial to know the safe internal cooking temperatures for each food item while cooking, it’s also important to choose the right thermometer for the type of meal that is being prepared. Food safety experts know that there are a wide variety of cooking thermometers that exist, and these vary from digital to analog, to even single-use thermometers. There are also thermometers that are designed specifically for certain items. Meat and poultry thermometers are the most common, however, candy thermometers exist as well – although mainly for consistency purposes and not food safety.

Getting Accurate Results

Just as there are different safe internal temperatures for different types of food, individuals who have had food quality training know that the placement of a thermometer also varies by product. For meats such as beef, pork or lamb roasts, it’s important to insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat, away from any bones or fat. This will allow the thermometer to get an accurate reading of the internal temperature of the meat. For whole poultry, however, the food thermometer must be inserted into the thickest part of the thigh while avoiding any bones.

What other foods should use a food thermometer?