Proper Food Temperature

Proper food temperature refers to knowing how to cook and store different food items to prevent spoilage and food poisoning. It is important for anyone in charge of a child’s food, be it a parent or babysitter, to understand the process of food handling and storage and the implications it has on child safety. This is particularly important not only for family members but to ensure when someone is caring for your child. Be sure to discuss proper food temperature techniques with all individuals who will be preparing food and supervising your child during meal times.

The following are some tips and ideas about cooking, storing, reheating and refrigerating food to minimize the chances of bacteria and germs causing food poisoning, including our handy food temperature chart

Type of Food Proper Cooked Temperature
Beef, veal
and Lamb
medium-rare 63°C (145°F)
medium 71°C (160°F)
well done 77°C (170°F)
Pork well done 71°C (160°F)
Poultry pieces 74°C (165°F)
whole 85°C (185°F)
Ground Meat burgers, meatballs
71°C (160°F)
poultry 74°C (165°F)

Cooking meat and poultry~Requires that you understand the internal temperature that should be reached when preparing the food. If you are roasting poultry and meat, the minimum oven temperature should be 325°F. For steaks, chops, and veal, the minimum should be 145 °F, and ground beef should be at 160 °F. Poultry cooking may require that you have a thermometer for kitchen use because the minimum internal temperature for it is 165 °F, but it may not be done to your expectation.

Sea food~Is especially dangerous if not cooked properly. There are a few basic observations you can make to make certain that the food is the proper food temperature, well done and safe to eat. Finfish should be cooked to the point that the scales flake off easily with a knife or fork. The meat should also be opaque and not runny. Crabs, shrimp, and lobster should be done until they turn red and the flesh turns opaque and pearl white color. Scallops, depending on your desired outcome, should either turn opaque and firm or milky white. Oysters, clams, and mussels should be cooked until the shells open up. If these effects are not noticeable when cooking the seafood, they are not done and can still cause food poisoning. Of course, there are other issues associated with feeding children, especially young children shellfish because of food sensitivities and food allergies. Talk to your child’s health care provider before introducing any seafood into you child’s diet regardless of their age.

Reheating~Is a habit that is better avoided than practiced because of the conditions in which we reheat the food. We might be very hungry or impatient and end up consuming the food without ensuring that it is hot and steaming. The minimum temperature for reheating is 145 °F. When using a microwave oven for this, do not ignore the stand time as many of us do. Ensuring a thorough reheat is necessary.

Leftovers~Are a common source of food poisoning, even if the food was at the proper food temperature and cooked the right way. The determining factor when storing leftovers is the temperature at which you refrigerate it. Let the food cool first before putting it in the refrigerator. Always place leftovers in shallow containers, and when reheating, use a minimum temperature of 145 °F as indicated above or up to 165 °F.

Refrigeration~Is another aspect of proper food temperature that is taken for granted. Your refrigerator should always be at 40 °F, but always remember that food stored in the refrigerator also gets spoiled with time, unlike in the freezer, where the very cold temperatures prevent any spoilage from occurring. Do not keep perishable foods in the refrigerator for too long lest molds and bad odor become evident. Clear out your fridge if this occurs and throw out any food that may have come into contact with the moldy items.

Always make sure that the food you cook is completely thawed so that you can reach the desired temperature and also ensure that it is cooked through and through. If the center of the food is still cold and icy, the outsides will cook, even burn, before the inside is done. Again, try your best to always make fresh food from fresh ingredients for every meal. Paying attention to these guidelines should provide your family with healthy food and keep them safe from food poisoning and one of the best ways to do this is to understand and follow proper food temperature guidelines.When you child begins to learn simple cooking methods, make sure you devote ample time to also teaching proper food temperature, storage, and reheating techniques.

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