Cooking Meat? Check the New Recommended Temperatures
By Diane Van, Manager, USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
On May 24, USDA made some important changes in their recommended cooking temperatures for meats. Here’s what you need to know:
- Cooking Whole Cuts of Pork: USDA has lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 ºF to 145 ºF with the addition of a three-minute rest time. Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality—juicy and tender.
- Cooking Whole Cuts of Other Meats: For beef, veal, and lamb cuts, the safe temperature remains unchanged at 145 ºF, but the department has added a three-minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations.
What Cooking Temperatures Didn’t Change?
- Ground Meats: This change does not apply to ground meats, including beef, veal, lamb, and pork, which should be cooked to 160 ºF and do not require a rest time.
- Poultry: The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, stays the same at 165 ºF.
What Is Rest Time?
“Rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful bacteria.
Why Did the Recommendations Change?
- It’s just as safe to cook cuts of pork to 145 º F with a three-minute rest time as it is to cook them to 160 ºF, the previously recommended temperature, with no rest time. The new cooking recommendations reflect the same standards that the agency uses for cooked meat products produced in federally inspected meat establishments, which rely on the rest time of three minutes to achieve a safe product.
- Having a single time and temperature combination for all meat will help consumers remember the temperature at which they can be sure the meat is safe to eat.
How Do You Use a Food Thermometer?
Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food. It should not touch bone, fat, or gristle. Start checking 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 where to place a food thermometer in different cuts of meat, see Thermometer Placement and Temperatures. For more information on cooking temperatures for all types of food, see the Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart.
If you have questions about cooking meat, feel free to contact us at the Hotline (1-888-674-6854 toll-free) or online at AskKaren.gov (English and Spanish) or m.AskKaren.gov (Mobile Ask Karen) on your smartphone.
I am glad that you mentioned the need to continue cooking ground beef at a higher temperature. Ground beef has more surface area than other cuts of meat, which means more surface area for contaminants. Also, the beef can be from a obtained from multiple cows. One beef source could be contaminated and then combined with other beef. Cooking this product thouroughly at a high temperature can reduce the risk of food bourne illness.