Keep Your Food at the Appropriate Temperatures

Tips for cooking, chilling, and defrosting foods to help prevent foodborne illness.

On this page:
Defrosting
Cooking
Temperature chart
Chilling

Defrosting

Defrost food appropriately.

  • Defrost food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

  • Food should be stored in a refrigerator that is 40°F or cooler or a freezer that is 0°F or cooler.

Cooking

Cook food thoroughly.

  • Thoroughly cook raw meat and poultry to destroy bacteria.
    • Ground beef and hamburgers should be cooked until they are no longer pink in the middle.
      • Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat can be used to ensure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.
    • Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

  • Use Proper Cooking Temperatures to Ensure Safe Food
    This printable chart gives cooking temperatures. The key to safe cooking is the proper internal temperature to kill the organisms that might make you sick. Use a thermometer to check temperature.

  • If you are served an undercooked hamburger or other ground beef product in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking.

Chilling

Chill food promptly.

  • According to both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, refrigeration at 40° F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk of foodborne illness.

  • Microorganisms grow more rapidly at warmer temperatures, and research shows that keeping a constant
    refrigerator temperature of 40° F or below helps slow growth of these harmful microbes.

  • Always refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, and other perishables as soon as you get them home from the store. Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food, or cut fresh fruits and vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer. Reduce that to one hour when the temperature is above 90° F.

  • Use a refrigerator thermometer to be sure the temperature is consistently 40° F or below.

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours of purchase or use. Always marinate foods in the refrigerator.

  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator. If you will cook food immediately, for a quick thaw, defrost in the microwave or enclose the food in an airtight package and submerge it in cold water.

  • Separate large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

  • Do not overstuff the refrigerator.
    • Cold air must circulate to keep food safe.

  • Use or discard chilled foods as recommended.
  • As you approach 32° F, ice crystals can begin to form and lower the quality of foods such as raw fruits, vegetables and eggs. A refrigerator thermometer will help you determine whether you are too close to this temperature.

Updated Thursday, 20-Feb-2014 14:14:31 CST