A Complete Guide to Cooking Meat Safely

How to Cook Meat Safely - CookinGenie blog

28 Sep 2021

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A Complete Guide to Cooking Meat Safely

There are many foods that can cause illness when handled incorrectly, but one of the most common instances of serious foodborne illness comes from the undercooking or mishandling of meat. Raw meat is often full of fecal matter from the animal, which can contain a host of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. Because of this, it is crucial to handle raw meat carefully and cook it to a safe temperature to kill as many pathogens as possible. If not, an undercooked piece of meat can easily get someone sick.

While this may sound simple, there are some intricacies to cooking meat safely, and not all meats are safe to eat at the same temperature. Here are some of the key things to remember when cooking meat and how some of the most popular meats need to be cooked in order to be safe to serve.

Keep raw meats separate from other foods—including other meats

It’s common sense that the juices from raw meat should stay away from fresh produce but it’s also good practice to keep raw meat away from other raw meat. As you’ll see with the minimum required internal temperatures, not all meats are safe at the same time. Chicken, for example, needs to be cooked more than steak. So, if you get the juices from raw chicken over your steak, the steak may be cooked all the way through, but the residual juice from the chicken may not be.

Also be sure to use separate cutting boards and utensils for different kinds of meat, wash your hands after handling raw meat, and disinfect any surfaces the meat may have come into contact with.

Minimum required internal temperatures

Poultry, like chicken and turkey requires the most cooking, while pork, beef, lamb, and seafood requires less. Note that ground meat of any kind requires more cooking than a whole piece of the same meat. This is because ground meat, with an increased surface area and the potential to come from more than one individual animal, has more exposure to bacteria. To take the temperature of a protein, insert a clean, sanitized thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and wait for the thermometer to read a temperature. For many meats, the meat needs to hold that temperature for a given period of time before it’s considered safe.

Also note that after you remove your meat from the heat, it will continue to cook for several more minutes in a process known as carry-over cooking, which will raise the internal temperature 5-10⁰F, so if your meat is a couple degrees under the minimum required internal temperature when you measure it, it’ll be safe to serve by the time you eat it.

The following are the minimum required internal temperatures for different proteins.

Poultry—Including whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck: 165⁰F for at least 15 seconds

This also includes any stuffing inside of a bird (think thanksgiving) as well as any casseroles, stuffed pastas, or stuffed chicken breasts. When temping whole birds, make sure to insert the thermometer underneath the thigh, which is the thickest part of the bird.

Ground meat—Including beef, pork, lamb, veal, and ground seafood: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Note that a medium burger is 140-145⁰F, and a well-done burger is 160⁰F.Eating a burger less than well-done could increase your chances of getting sick, which is why restaurants have the note at the bottom of their menus denoting the increased risk of foodborne illness from consuming undercooked meat.

Injected meat/brined meat—Including brined hams and roasts injected with flavor: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Eggs that are meant to be held hot: 155⁰F for 15 seconds
Eggs that are to be served immediately: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

Chops/steaks of red meat—Including beef, lamb, veal, and pork: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

All of these meats will be a little pink at this temperature, but they’re safe to eat. A medium-rare steak is between 130-135⁰F, so there is a higher risk associated with eating steak under medium.

Whole roasts of pork, beef, veal, or lamb: 155⁰ for 4 minutes

Make sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Because roasts are much bigger, the temperature needs to hold much longer to ensure it’s cooked through.

Whole seafood—Including whitefish, shellfish, and crustaceans: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

This applies to whole pieces of fish and shellfish/crustaceans such as shrimp, crab, and lobster. With bivalves such as mussels or clams, there is no need to measure temperature, they are safe when the shells open.

The bottom line

Overall, cooking meat to safe temperatures is a very simple, but very important task in the kitchen. Having a digital thermometer makes everything easier. If you’re unsure of how the meat needs to be cooked, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and slightly overcook a piece of meat than to get someone sick. When you book a chef from CookinGenie, you can trust that they’ll cook your meat so that it’s not only safe to eat, but also delicious.


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28 Mar 2020

The other day, I picked up some ham from an online retailer. It was a premium 8-pound spiral-sliced ham, slow-cooked and smoked for 24 hours featuring a delicious torch-glazed brown sugar crust. Tempted? I certainly was. However, I happened to glance at the nutritional facts & noticed a detail – 41% (990 mg) sodium per serving. Is that good? Or bad? Should I care about this number? Or, just enjoy the ham?

Let us dig deeper.

The terms “Sodium” and “Salt” are sometimes used interchangeably. Salt is made of sodium and chlorine & occurs naturally in some foods, & is added in canned, processed or cooked foods. In the right amounts, in our bodies, sodium is vital. It supports our nervous system, muscles & fluid balance. Take too much though, and you start to see high blood pressure. Additionally, heart & kidney diseases are common effects of having extra sodium in the body.

But, what about my ham? Is it safe to eat? American Heart Association (AHA) suggests having around 1500 mg of Sodium per day. You may be permitted a bit more if you lose body fluids due to sporting activities. This boils down to a teaspoon of salt every day. But, on average 9 out of 10 Americans consume almost double the recommended sodium. Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that of our daily sodium intake, 65% comes from food bought in stores, 25% comes from restaurants and 10% comes from home cooked foods. Eating fresh homemade meals can go a long way in keeping us within the bounds of recommended amounts of Sodium. This is exactly what CookinGenie helps our customers with. All you do is pick your favorite foods from www.cookingenie.com & we will show up with the groceries at your kitchen & cook the food right there. 100% control over what goes in your food.

As for my ham, I did eat it – but now with the awareness that just one serving of the ham gave me almost half the daily sodium I needed for my body for the entire day.

References:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/9-out-of-10-americans-eat-too-much-sodium-infographic

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Healthy Eating on Vacation

11 Oct 2022

When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to let your healthy eating habits slip. Between indulging in delicious local cuisine and celebrating with cocktails, it can be hard to stick to your usual routine. But just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean you must abandon all of your good habits. You can enjoy your vacation while still eating healthy with some planning and effort. Here are some tips to help you do just that. 

Why is vacation eating difficult?

Eating healthy on vacation can be difficult for a variety of reasons. For one thing, you’re probably not used to the local cuisine. This unfamiliarity can be a problem if you don’t know what to order or how to pronounce the dish you’re interested in trying. In addition, it can also be difficult because you’re often on the go and may not have time to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal. Thus, you may find yourself snacking on unhealthy foods or grabbing a quick bite to eat between sightseeing tours.  

However, with some planning and preparation before you travel and packing some healthy snacks, you can ensure that your vacation eating doesn’t derail your healthy eating habits.

1- Do some research before you travel

If you’re worried about eating healthy on vacation, the best thing to do is research before going. Find out what the local cuisine is like and look for healthy options. For example, if you’re traveling to Italy, you may want to research some traditional Italian recipes that are relatively healthy. This way, you’ll know what to order when you’re at a restaurant, and you’ll be able to find healthier versions of your favorite dishes. 

2- Bring along some snacks

Another way to ensure you eat healthy on vacation is to pack some snacks. This way, you’ll have something healthy to eat no matter where you are or how long it takes to find a meal. Some great travel snacks include fruits and vegetables, whole-grain crackers, nuts, and yogurt.

3- Stay hydrated

It’s essential to stay hydrated when you’re traveling, especially if you are in a hot climate. Drinking plenty of water will help you avoid dehydration and fill you up, making you less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. Be sure to carry a water bottle to always have water on hand.

4- Avoid restaurants that serve only junk food

One of the easiest ways to ruin your healthy eating habits is to dine at restaurants that serve nothing but junk food. If you’re trying to eat healthy on vacation, try to find restaurants serving healthy options. You can usually find this information online or by asking the hotel staff for recommendations.

Also Read: Health Benefits of Hiring a Personal Chef

5- Limit your alcohol intake

It’s easy to overindulge in alcohol when you’re on vacation, but too much alcohol can quickly ruin your healthy eating habits. If you drink, do so in moderation, and be sure to eat a meal first. This way, you can avoid making unhealthy choices later on.

6- Hire a personal chef for your vacation rental

Hiring a personal chef can also be a great way to ensure you eat healthily while on vacation. A personal chef can cook delicious and nutritious meals for you and your family, so you don’t have to worry about finding time to cook or eat out every day. This option can be great if you’re traveling with young children or trying to stick to a specific diet. In addition, having a personal chef can also help you save money since you won’t have to eat out as often. If you’re interested in hiring a private chef, research to find someone who is reputable and can meet your specific needs. 

7- Healthy vacation meal ideas

One of the hardest things about being on vacation is eating healthily. The delicious food options can be tempting, but if you want to stay feeling good on your trip, it’s essential to make some wise choices. Here are a few ideas for healthy vacation meals that will help you stay on track: 

  • Start your day with a nutritious breakfast. Try yogurt with fresh fruit or whole-grain toast with avocado. 
  • For lunch, go for something light but filling, like a salad or soup. 
  • When it comes to dinner, grilled fish or chicken is always a good option. Pair it with some vegetables and brown rice for a complete meal. 

Of course, you should also drink plenty of water throughout the day. And if you want to indulge in a sweet treat now and then, that’s perfectly fine! 

Overall, the best way to ensure you’re eating healthy on vacation is by being prepared ahead of time. A little research and planning can go a long way in helping you stay on track. And if all else fails, remember that moderation is key. Enjoy your vacation, and don’t be too stressed about staying perfectly healthy. Just focus on having fun and making memories. 

 

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Promote Well Being

07 Oct 2022

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we gather to nourish our bodies and souls. But too often, our kitchens become cluttered and chaotic, making it hard to find joy in cooking and eating. If you’re ready to create a beautiful and functional kitchen, here are ten tips to get you started. From adding plants to the room to cooking with mindful intent, these tips will help turn your kitchen into a relaxing oasis.  

1- Keep a clean and organized kitchen.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and maintaining a clean and organized space is essential for promoting well-being. A cluttered kitchen can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to illness. In addition, a messy kitchen can lead to stress and food contamination. . To keep your kitchen clean and organized, start by decluttering surfaces and putting away any non-essential items. Then, create a cleaning schedule and stick to it! Wipe down surfaces regularly, sweep and mop floors weekly, and deep-clean appliances monthly. In addition, take the time to organize your pantry and cabinets so that everything has a place. You can create a safe and inviting kitchen by following these simple steps.  

2- Have healthy snacks and meals available.

A healthy diet is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By having nutritious snacks and meals in your kitchen, you can ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs to stay fit. Of course, finding time to cook a meal from scratch can be tricky. That’s why it’s best to have quick and easy recipes when you have to get dinner on the table in a hurry. And don’t forget about breakfast! Skipping breakfast can make you more likely to overeat later in the day, so be sure to have some healthy breakfast options. By planning ahead of time and stocking your kitchen with healthy food options, you can set yourself up for achieving your fitness goals.  

3- Get rid of gadgets and appliances you don’t use.

Take a look around your kitchen. How many appliances and gadgets do you see that you never use? If your answer is more than one, it might be time to declutter. Not only will getting rid of unused kitchen items help to declutter your space, but it can also promote well-being. When surrounded by clutter, relaxing and feeling at ease can be challenging. However, a clean and organized space can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm. So, to promote well-being in your home, start by decluttering your kitchen. You might be surprised at how good it feels to let go of things you no longer need.  

4- Bring in fresh flowers or plants.

A kitchen is typically one of the busiest rooms in a home, and it can often feel like a utilitarian space. However, adding a few fresh flowers and plants can help to promote a sense of well-being in your kitchen. While the plants’ natural colors and scents help boost your mood, its air-purifying properties can help clean the air by absorbing harmful toxins and releasing oxygen. These benefits mean that bringing a touch of nature into your kitchen can positively impact your physical and emotional health. 

Moreover, studies have shown that being around plants can lower stress levels, improve cognitive function, and increase energy levels. So if you’re looking for a way to make your kitchen more inviting, try adding a touch of nature. You may find that you enjoy your time in the kitchen more than ever before.  

Also Read: Health Benefits of Hiring a Personal Chef

5- Fill your kitchen with soothing colors and textures.

While the jury is still out on whether or not your kitchen’s color scheme can affect your mood, there’s no denying that certain hues and textures can create a more inviting and peaceful space. To promote well-being in your kitchen, consider filling the room with soothing colors and textures. Warm earth tones, like terra cotta and bronze, encourage relaxation, while cool blues and greens can help boost energy levels. Adding textured accents, like rugs, curtains, or even plants, can also help to create a more inviting atmosphere. And, of course, don’t forget the power of a good scent. Incense, candles, or even essential oils can help to transform your kitchen into a haven of peace and relaxation.  

6- Incorporate healthy cooking methods.

As any health-conscious individual knows, what we cook and eat at home significantly impacts our overall well-being. While relying on quick and easy processed foods may be tempting, these convenience items are often high in unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar. In contrast, meals that are cooked from scratch using fresh ingredients can not only be healthier but also more delicious. Fortunately, it is possible to incorporate healthy cooking methods into your kitchen without sacrificing taste or convenience. For example, try grilling, broiling, or roasting foods instead of frying them in oil. These methods not only require less fat but can also help to bring out the natural flavors of food. In addition, when preparing meals ahead of time, try including plenty of vegetables and whole grains. By making simple changes like these, you can promote better health without compromising flavor or ease of preparation.  

7- Use your kitchen for social gatherings.

The kitchen is often seen as the heart of the home, and for a good reason. Not only is it where we prepare our meals, but it’s also a place where we gather with family and friends. Studies have shown that social gatherings in the kitchen can positively impact our well-being. Whether enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend or sharing a meal with loved ones, spending time in the kitchen can help reduce stress and promote togetherness. So next time you’re planning a social gathering, consider using your kitchen as the setting. Not only will you create lasting memories, but you might also boost your mood.  

 8- Make time for self-care in your kitchen.

It’s no secret that the kitchen can be a stressful place. Whether you’re trying to cook a complicated recipe or dealing with family drama, there’s always a possibility for things to go wrong. That’s why making time for self-care in your kitchen is essential. Taking a few minutes to relax and recharge can help you feel more capable of dealing with whatever comes your way. And there are plenty of easy ways to do it! For example, try brewing yourself a cup of tea or taking a moment to appreciate the smell of your favorite meal cooking. You could also light a candle or put on some soothing music. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that makes you feel calm and happy. Taking care of yourself is essential for promoting well-being, so don’t forget to do it in your kitchen too. 

To summarize, making your kitchen a wellness sanctuary is about more than just the food you put into your body. It’s also about the environment you create for yourself. By following these simple tips, you can turn your kitchen into a place where you can cook, relax, and recharge. What changes will you make in your kitchen today?   

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