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Do You Know the Correct Place to Insert Your Food Thermometer?

Posted by Meredith Carothers, Public Affairs Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA in Health and Safety
Sep 19, 2023
A person inserting a food thermometer into sausage

You have a food thermometer and are ready to use it – that’s fantastic! But do you know where to place it in your foods? Correctly placing the food thermometer within food is important to get the most accurate temperature reading. Without proper placement, it’s possible that parts of your food could still be undercooked and, if contaminated, could make you sick.

Recently, FSIS conducted a study to observe consumers preparing raw breakfast sausage in a test kitchen. In this study, 50% of participants used a food thermometer to take the internal temperature of a sausage patty, but 92% of them did not place it in the correct spot. The participants placed the thermometer into the top of the patty, which didn’t allow the entire thermometer to go into the food.

We’re here to help you correctly use your food thermometer. Follow these tips:

  • When taking the internal temperature of thin foods, like a sausage patty, place the thermometer into the side of the food until it reaches the center.
    • It is safest to take the food off the heat source before taking the internal temperature.
  • Anytime you are taking the internal temperature of your food, you want to avoid any bone or gristle and place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food.
  • After properly placing the thermometer, check to make sure it has reached a safe internal temperature:
    • Beef, pork, veal, & lamb (whole): 145 F with a three-minute rest
    • Fish: 145 F
    • Beef, pork, veal, & lamb (ground): 160 F
    • Egg dishes: 160 F
    • Poultry (whole & ground): 165 F

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

Category/Topic: Health and Safety