How can I prevent food poisoning when cooking meat?

When cooking meat, keep in mind that poultry poses one of the biggest risks of food poisoning because it can carry Salmonella bacteria. Be sure to keep this meat refrigerated until you're ready to cook it, and grill or roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer.

Beef, pork and other raw meats -- even hot dogs -- also need to be handled with caution. If they're steaks or fillets, they should be cooked to 145 degrees, but ground meats need to be cooked a little longer, until they reach 160 degrees.

Additionally, stay mindful of cross contamination by washing your hands and avoiding using any utensils or cutting boards that came into contact with raw meat. And don't forget to put your cooked items on a clean platter for serving rather than back on the plate that held the raw meat.

After cooking poultry and other meat, keep it at 140 degrees or warmer until served by keeping it off to the side on the grilling surface, in the oven (set at approximately 200 degrees) or a chafing dish or on a warming tray.
When it comes to handling meat, several steps can significantly cut your risk of foodborne illness or food poisoning. Before cooking up your next meaty meal, review these simple but important food safety tips:
  • Use one cutting board for meats and another for vegetables and other ingredients.
  • Keep raw meat and seafood separate from other foods. Store meats on the bottom shelf or bottom bin in your refrigerator to keep meat juices from dripping on other items.
  • Thaw meats properly in the microwave or refrigerator. Never thaw frozen items by leaving them out on the counter or soaking them in hot water in the sink.
  • If your recipe requires marinating for more than a minute or two, put meat and marinade in a covered dish in the refrigerator.
  • In addition to handling meat properly, you need to cook it correctly, too. Relying on flesh color isn't enough. Buy a meat thermometer and make sure to cook hamburgers to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jackie Newgent
Nutrition & Dietetics

Wash your hands and surfaces often! That means wash your hands before and after you handle uncooked meat and the cutting board or utensils used in preparation of it. Keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination. Using a cutting board designated for raw meat can be really helpful … consider a red one to easily remember. Then be sure the meat is cooked thoroughly.

Check out this temperature chart:

Use a proper meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat for the most accurate reading. Then, do be sure to thoroughly clean the thermometer after every use. All that’s left to do next … enjoy!

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Food safety involves cleaning with soap and hot water all surfaces that have come into contact with raw meat. Do not use utensils or plates that have touched raw meat with cooked ready to serve meat. Cook meat until a food thermometer registers the appropriate temperature fahrenheit of the food as follows: ground turkey or chicken - 165, ground beef, veal, lamb or pork - 160, fresh beef, veal or lamb medium rare - 145, medium - 160, well done - 170, fresh pork medium - 160, well done - 170, fresh ham - 160, reheated commercially cooked ham - 140, vacuum sealed ready to eat reheated roast beef - 140, poultry - 165, leftovers - 165.

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

View this video for tips to prevent food poisoning

Always start preparing food by washing your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.  Second, keep your raw, uncooked meats separate from vegetables etc.  Consider using two different colored cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination.  The juices from the raw meats can increase your risk of food poisoning if they come in contact with other foods.  Once cooked to the right temperature, ensure that food is maintained at the correct temperature for it to be safe until eating.  If kept at the room temperature for more than one hour in 90+degrees F or for more than two hours in <90 degrees F, the food is unsafe.  Refrigerate your leftovers as soon as possible to prevent bacterial growth build up.  When reheating food/left-overs ensure that you heat it to the right temperature.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.