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Use A Food Thermometer

FCIC - Use A Food Thermometer
The Thermy™ Campaign
October 2003

Use A Food Thermometer

Safe Temperature Chart Inside!


“I want to keep my family safe.”

“I used to overcook my food. Now my food is juicier – not dry as a bone.”

People all over the country are taking Thermy’s™ advice. They’re using a food thermometer to check the temperature of everyday foods — like hamburgers, pork chops, and chicken breasts.

Most people think they know when food is “done” just by “eyeballing it.” They look at it and trust their experience.

Experience is good, but it sometimes can be misleading. For instance, cooking by color is definitely misleading. Meat color —pink or brown — can fool you!

How do you know when your hamburger is cooked? Because it’s brown inside?

Think about this … 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown in the middle BEFORE it has reached a safe internal temperature, according to recent USDA research.

Use a food thermometer.
Keep your family safe.
Be a better cook.


Thermometers are turning up everywhere in today’s kitchens in all shapes and sizes — digitals, instant-reads, probes for the oven and microwave, disposable indicators and sensor sticks, pop-ups, and even barbecue forks. They’re high-tech and easy to use.

Some thermometers are meant to stay in the food while it’s cooking; others are not. Some are ideal for checking thin foods, like the digital. Others, like the large-dial thermometer many people use, are really meant for large roasts and whole chickens and turkeys.

Choose and use the one
that is right for you!


These are the facts!

  • Millions of people get sick from dangerous bacteria in food every year.

  • Public health data in 2000 show that there are more than 5 times the number of dangerous bacteria in our food than we were aware of in 1942.

  • Many people don’t link their illness to foodborne bacteria. They think they have a case of the flu.

  • You can become sick anytime from 20 minutes to 6 weeks after eating food with some types of harmful bacteria.

  • Infants and young children, pregnant women, and older adults are at greatest risk for foodborne illness, as are all people with weakened immune systems caused by cancer treatment, AIDS, diabetes, kidney disease, and organ transplants.


    Using a food thermometer is the only sure way of knowing if your food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria.

    Is it done yet? ?
    Where is your food thermometer?


    Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures
    Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb - 160 °F
    Turkey, Chicken  - 165°F

    Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb
    Medium Rare - 145 °F
    Medium - 160 °F
    Well Done - 170 °F

    Chicken & Turkey, whole  180 °F Poultry breasts, roast - 170°F
    Poultry thighs, wings, legs
    180 °F Duck & Goose - 180;°F
    Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) - 165°F

    Fresh Pork
    Medium - 160°F
    Well Done - 170°F

    Fresh (raw) - 160°F 
    Pre-cooked (to reheat) - 140°F

    Eggs & Egg Dishes
    Eggs - Cook until yolk & white are firm
    Egg dishes - 160°F

    Leftovers & Casseroles - 165 °F

    Thermy TM is the messenger of a national consumer education campaign of the USDA/ FSIS designed to promote the use of food thermometers.

    USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
    (TTY: 1-800-256-7072)


    Proper cooking is one of the four key steps for fighting BAC — bacteria that can be found in food. Be a BAC-fighter.

    Fight BAC!® is a food safety education campaign of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. For more information, check the web site:

    October 2003

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

    USDA does not endorse any products, services, or organizations.

    For Further Information, Contact:

    Meat and Poultry Hotline:

    FSIS Food Safety Education Staff


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