Lesson 2d - Cooking

Cook it well ... or time will tell!

Thorough cooking destroys harmful bacteria.

  • Cook food to the recommended temperature. Only thorough cooking destroys harmful bacteria.
  • Use a thermometer to determine if meat, poultry, fish and casseroles have reached a safe internal temperature.
  • Avoid interrupted cooking. It is risky to partially cook products, cool them and then later finish cooking by grilling, as this involves multiple trips through the temperature danger zone (TDZ). Each trip provides an opportunity for bacteria to grow.
  • Use microwave-safe containers when microwaving foods. Plastic used to cover containers should be microwave safe. Wax paper is a safe product to use.
  • Be sure to rotate or stir foods cooked or reheated in the microwave, as this method does not evenly distribute heat. Use a thermometer to be sure correct end-point temperatures are reached.
  • Check the thickest part or center of food items with a thermometer to be sure temperatures are reached. Thermometers should be calibrated weekly. Place in container of ice water to check for a reading of 32°F.
  • Cooking until the center is no longer pink or juices run clear is NOT an accurate measurement, particularly for killing E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. Be sure with a thermometer!  Poultry, stuffed meats, casseroles, and leftovers should be cooked to 165°F for 15 seconds; ground meats should be cooked to 155°F for 15 seconds; while pork, fish, and roasts should be cooked to 145°.
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