For those meat lovers out there, a wonderful piece of chicken or beef is a beautiful thing.
But, there are guidelines to help us stay safe when cooking or storing meat. Without them, it could mean a trip to the hospital.
When cooking meat, always use a meat thermometer to double check, and always measure the thickest part of the meat.
Checking the thickest part of the meat ensures that the entire piece is cooked properly. The thickest part will have more insulation than the outer parts, and will cook the slowest. Just because the skin of a chicken is 165°F doesn’t mean the whole thing is.
Knowing the safe temperatures for cooked meat is particularly important when dealing with “mechanically tenderized meat”.
What is Mechanically Tenderized Meat?
When meat (e.g., steaks, roasts) is mechanically tenderized, needles or blades pierce the meat to make it more tender and easier to chew. Meat suppliers and sellers, restaurants, and even home cooks do this. The needles or blades may also inject flavour, like marinades.
What are the risks of mechanically tenderized meat?
Your risk of getting sick from mechanically tenderized meat or ground meat is about 5 times higher than from intact (not mechanically tenderized) meat. The risk is even higher for older adults, young children, pregnant women, and people who are already sick.
It’s normal for E. coli to be on the surface of intact raw meat. But, the heat from cooking or grilling kills it. With mechanically tenderized meat, the E. coli gets pushed from the surface of the meat to the inside, where it may not be killed during cooking. Especially if the cook chooses to cook meat to “rare”.
SafeEggs.com created a nice infographic to illustrate the safe cooking temperatures of various meats. We have also included an infographic that shows different types of thermometers, what they are used for, and how to use them.
Type of Thermometers