The Perfect Food Temperature
The Perfect Food Temperature

Not only does cooking meat at the correct temperature ensure the cut is perfectly done every time, it will also ensure your meat is cooked safely. Meat needs to be cooked properly to kill the bacteria which it naturally carries on the outside. Depending on your taste preference and the type of meat, a variety of cooking temperatures will be necessary.

Best practices for meat:

There are four main points to remember when handling, preparing and cooking meat: Clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Clean: When going to handle raw meat, first wash your hands. Clean all surfaces which you will be using to prepare your meat. Afterwards, clean your hands and surfaces again before preparing any other food.

Separate: Don’t cross contaminate. Use different knives, plates, and chopping boards for your raw meats. Keep them away from your cooked foods at all times.

Cook: Cook at the correct temperature to safely cook your food as per our guide below.

Chill: Seal and store your leftovers in a refrigerator within two hours.

Which meats need to be cooked all the way through?

Certain meats must be cooked all the way through for safety. These include poultry, pork, sausages, liver, kidney and other types of offal, and some fish.

Foods such as burgers, rolled joints of meat, and meat that has been skewered or minced also needs to be thoroughly cooked, as the bacteria, which usually lives on the outside of the meat, has been moved through it in the preparation.

To check if meat is cooked all the way through, pierce the thickest part of the joint or cut of meat. If the meat is properly cooked, the juices should run completely clear.

Which meats can be eaten rare?

Beef steaks, lamb chops, and whole joints of either can be eaten rare when cooked at a high temperature. The high temperature seals the meat and kills the bacteria. When the outside of the meat has changed color, the meat has been properly sealed.

Degrees of doneness:

Doneness is the scale used to describe how thoroughly a cut of meat is to be cooked according to your taste preference. The scale ranges in graduations from extra-rare (also known as ‘blue’), which is not recommended for safety reasons, through to well-done. Below is an overview of the perfect internal temperatures when estimating the ideal degree of doneness for cuts of meat such as beef and lamb.

Perfect temperatures for meats:

Certain factors should also be considered when using the below chart as a guide, such as the size, shape, cut, and thickness of the meat, as well as the size of the oven dish or type of grill bring used.

It is also very important to note that meat continues cooking after being removed from the heat. Therefore, to achieve your desired degree of doneness, remove your meat from the heat in advance of the desired internal temperature being reached.

Type of meat

Minimum cooking temperature

Steak/beef

Rare

120°F – 125°F (48.9°C to 51.6°C)

Medium-rare

130°F – 135°F (54.4°C to 57.2°C)

Medium

140°F – 145°F (60°C to 62.8°C)

Medium-well

150°F – 155°F (65.5°C to 68.3°C)

Well done

150°F – 155°F (65.5°C to 68.3°C)

Roasting beef

Rib eye, sirloin, rump, fillet, standing rib roast, rolled rib beef roast

400°F (200°C)

Silverside, blade, round, topside, eye round, oyster blade

320°F (160°C)

Lamb chops

Rare

135°F (57.2 °C)

Medium-rare

140°F – 150°F (60°C to 65.5°C)

Medium

160°F (71°C)

Well done

165°F (75°C) and above

Roasting lamb

Eye of loin/backstrap, lamb round and rump, topside roasts, mini-roast

425°F (220°C)

Rack of lamb, four rib roast, crown roast

400°F (200°C)

Loin (boned and rolled), leg or shoulder of lamb

350°F (180°C)

Poultry

Chicken

165°F – 175°F (74°C to 80°C)

Turkey

165°F – 175°F (74°C to 80°C)

Duck/goose

165°F (74°C)

Pork/ham

Fresh pork/pork chops

145°F (63°C)

Fresh ham (from raw)

145°F (63°C)

Ham, Fully Cooked (to reheat)*

140°F (60°C)

Seafood

Finfish

145°F (63°C)

Lobster, shrimp, crabs

145°F (63°C)

Clams, oysters, mussels

145°F (63°C) or until shell cracks open

*Leftovers should be placed in shallow containers to cool quickly. They should be refrigerated at 40°F (4.4°C) after no more than 2 hours. Reheat foods until they are steaming hot or have a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Left over meats can be eaten cold if they have been properly cooled and stored.

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