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Check Your Steps: Cook to Keep Your Family Safer from Food Poisoning

While federal food safety agencies work hard every day to keep food safe before it gets to the consumer, the risk of foodborne illness has not been eliminated. One in six Americans will get food poisoning this year—that’s 48 million people. The USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline feels that it is important to give you information that can help prevent food poisoning when preparing meals at home.

Four simple behaviors—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—are the focus of the new Food Safe Families campaign and can help you keep your family safe when preparing, serving and storing food. Have you seen our ad with a pig in a sauna, reminding Americans of the need to cook meat to the right temperature? We want consumers to understand that food poisoning can happen, and that there are ways to help prevent it.

Today and for the next three weeks, we’ll post a blog focusing on one of these four important steps.


Always cook food to the right temperature.

Pig in SaunaThe only way to know when meats, poultry and seafood have reached a safe internal temperature is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell by looking or by the color of meat or poultry.

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.

  • Cook all ground meat, including hamburgers, to 160 °F.

  • Cook all chicken and turkey—whole, pieces or ground—to 165 °F.

  • Reheat leftovers to 165 °F.

  • Always place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, away from bone and fat, to check the temperature.

  • Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food in several places.

  • When cooking in a microwave oven, stir, cover, and rotate food for even cooking. Let food rest for a few minutes after cooking it in the microwave. This helps your food cook more completely by allowing colder areas of food time to absorb heat from hotter areas of food.

More information can be found here to make sure you’re cooking different types of food and using kitchen appliances properly to keep your family safe. Follow #checksteps on Twitter or visit for updates from the Food Safe Families campaign.

Posted in: Check Your StepsTagged: Cook