Using a food thermometer helps ensure food is cooked to a safe and flavorful temperature. Here are four guidelines based on information from the International Food Safety Council, a coalition of restaurant and food industry professionals certified in food safety; USDA and FDA.
CAUTION: Follow manufacturer's instructions for your thermometer on how to periodically check its accuracy. Some thermometers have a calibration nut under the dial that can be adjusted. Check the package for instructions.
1. Use a Clean Thermometer
Use a clean food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to the proper internal temperature. This also applies to food cooked or reheated in a microwave. Refer to the temperature chart in this article. To prevent cross-contamination, wash the thermometer probe (the part inserted into the food) with hot water and soap after each use.
NOTE: In addition to using a clean thermometer, don't put cooked food back on the plate that you used for raw food. Prevent cross-contamination by transferring cooked food to a clean serving dish.
Also, prevent cross-contamination by using clean utensils each time you flip, stir and remove cooked food from a skillet, saucepan, etc.
2. Cook Food Completely at One Time
Do NOT partially cook food and then finish it later. Harmful bacteria will grow between the time you start and finish cooking, even if you refrigerate the food in between.
3. Follow Thermometer Style Usage Guidelines
Food thermometers come in several styles. The two types most commonly used in the home kitchen are INSTANT-READ and OVEN-PROOF thermometers.
Instant-Read Dial and Digital Thermometers
Instant-read thermometers aren't meant to be left in food while it's cooking. They give a quick reading when they're used to check the internal temperature during cooking and after food is cooked. They can be used on larger foods and are the best choice for smaller items such as steaks, patties, chops and poultry pieces.
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