Magic Number Is 165 When Cooking Poultry

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  5/30/2006 11:12:13 PM

Cook raw poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F to eliminate pathogens and viruses. Use a thermometer to know when the meat reaches that temperature.

News You Can Use For June 2006

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently advised consumers that cooking raw poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees will eliminate pathogens and viruses. Past food safety guidelines recommended higher temperatures for some poultry products.

Scientific research indicates that foodborne pathogens and viruses, such as salmonella, campylobacter and the avian influenza virus, are destroyed when poultry is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. It’s important to use a food thermometer to check internal temperature.

In addition, LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames says consumers should follow important tips for handling raw poultry. She says these tips can be summarized in three words –clean, separate and chill. Clean means to wash hands and surfaces often; separate means to keep raw meat and poultry apart from cooked foods; chill means to refrigerate or freeze foods promptly.

The single minimum internal temperature requirement of 165 degrees was recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF). FSIS will use the NACMCF recommendation to further guide consumers in the preparation of poultry products to ensure microbiological safety. Although the NACMCF has established 165 degrees as the minimum temperature at which bacteria and viruses will be destroyed, consumers, for reasons of personal preference, may choose to cook poultry to higher temperatures.

The NACMCF was established in 1988 to provide advice and recommendations to the secretary of agriculture and the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on public health issues relative to the safety and wholesomeness of the U.S. food supply. The committee is composed of 30 voting members with scientific expertise in the fields of epidemiology, food technology, microbiology, risk assessment, infectious disease, biostatistics and other related sciences.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (eastern time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

"Ask Karen" is the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day to answer questions at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/Ask_Karen/index.asp#Question.

For additional information about cooking food safely, contact the LSU AgCenter extension agent in your parish.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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