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Cooking Meat: Is It Done Yet?

Posted by Beverly Cazares, Communication Program Specialist, FSIS-USDA in Health and Safety
Oct 03, 2022
A person measuring the temperature of the meat in a pan

A meal preparation study (PDF, 1.3 MB) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) revealed that only 55% of people use a food thermometer to verify if their food is safe to consume, despite 88% of participants reporting that they own a thermometer. Instead, participants in the study relied on visual cues such as color, firmness and time. But are visual cues enough to prevent foodborne illness?

Thermometer Use

USDA recommends never relying on color, firmness or time as an indicator to know if your food is fully cooked. Always cook all meats to a minimum safe internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer to prevent foodborne illness. So how does one know “is it done yet?”

  • Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before cutting or consuming.
  • Ground meats: Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • All poultry: Cook poultry (ground or whole) to an internal temperature of 165 F as measured with a food thermometer.

To obtain an accurate reading, the food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food, away from bone, fat or gristle.

Too many temperatures to remember? Visit our safe internal temperature chart for a quick and easy reference.

For more information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email to reach a consumer service representative or chat live at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety