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Safe Cooking Temperatures For Meat

Written by The Restaurant Doctor UK Team
Last Updated: 27th November 2023

Cooking meat at the correct temperature is essential to ensure that it is safe to eat and prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. This article will discuss the safe cooking temperatures for different types of meat, as well as provide advice on converting Fahrenheit to Celsius.

To ensure the meat is cooked to the correct internal temperature, using a thermometer or probe is recommended.

What's on this page?

Converting Fahrenheit to Celsius
Cooking Chicken and Turkey
Cooking Beef
Cooking Pork
Cooking Lamb
Resting Times
Reheating Guidelines
Key Takeaways

Converting Fahrenheit to Celsius

For those who are not familair with Fahrenheit, it is helpful to know how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius. The conversion formula is simple: subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit temperature, then multiply the result by 5/9 to obtain the Celsius temperature.

Alternatively, you can use our online converter below.

Temperature Converter


Cooking Chicken and Turkey

What temperature should chicken and turkey be when cooked?

To ensure chicken or turkey is cooked safely, the internal temperature should reach at least 75°C (167°F). To measure this temperature, insert a thermometer or probe into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding bones. It is crucial to check multiple areas, as some parts may cook faster than others.

Chicken and Turkey Cooking Tips

Roasting or grilling is a popular method for cooking chicken, whereas traditionally turkey is roasted. Cook at 200°C (392°F) for approximately 20 minutes per 450g (1lb), plus an additional 20 minutes.

Dangers of undercooking chicken and turkey

Undercooking chicken or turkey can lead to serious illnesses, such as salmonella and campylobacter infections, which cause symptoms like diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting. Ensuring chicken is cooked to the correct temperature will help eliminate harmful bacteria and prevent foodborne illness.

Cooking Beef

What temperature should beef be when cooked?

Safe cooking temperatures for beef vary depending on the desired level of doneness. For a rare roast or joint, the internal temperature should reach 52°C (125°F); for medium, 60°C (140°F); and for well-done, 71°C (160°F). Remember to use a thermometer or probe to accurately measure the internal temperature.

Beef Cooking Tips

For roasting, preheat the oven to 240°C (464°F) and cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C (356°F) and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes per 450g (1lb) depending on your desired level of doneness.

Dangers of undercooking beef

Undercooking beef can result in the growth and spread of bacteria like E. coli, which can cause severe foodborne illnesses. However, the risk of undercooked beef is generally lower than that of poultry, as long as the beef is sourced from a reputable supplier and properly handled during preparation.

Cooking Pork

What temperature should pork be when cooked?

Pork should be cooked to a recommended internal temperature of 75°C (167°F) and allowed to rest for at least three minutes before carving. This will ensure that any harmful bacteria, such as trichinella, are destroyed and the meat is safe to consume.

Pork Cooking Tips

Roast at 180°C (356°F) for approximately 35 minutes per 450g (1lb), then rest for at least three minutes before carving.

Dangers of undercooking pork

Undercooking pork can lead to infections caused by the trichinella parasite, which can result in muscle pain, fever, and digestive problems. To prevent this, always ensure pork is cooked to the recommended temperature and reheated properly.

Cooking Lamb

What temperature should lamb be when cooked?

Lamb should be cooked to different internal temperatures depending on the desired level of doneness. For rare lamb, the temperature should reach 52°C (125°F); for medium, 60°C (140°F); and for well-done, 71°C (160°F). Always use a thermometer or probe to check the internal temperature.

Lamb Cooking Tips

Roast at 200°C (392°F) for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C (356°F) and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes per 450g (1lb) depending on your desired level of doneness.

Dangers of undercooking lamb

Undercooking lamb can lead to foodborne illnesses, including salmonella and E. coli infections, causing symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Ensuring lamb is cooked to the correct temperature will help eliminate harmful bacteria and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Resting Times

Resting Times Allowing the meat to rest after cooking is essential for both food safety and overall taste. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavourful dish. As a general guideline, rest smaller cuts for 5-10 minutes and larger roasts for 10-20 minutes.

Reheating Guidelines

Reheating Guidelines When reheating meat, it is important to bring it to a safe internal temperature to kill any remaining bacteria. Reheat leftovers to at least 74°C (165°F) for safety. Use a covered, shallow container to ensure even heating, and stir occasionally for uniform heating.

Understanding and adhering to safe cooking temperatures is essential for preventing foodborne illnesses and ensuring that the meat is safe to consume. Using a thermometer or probe to measure the internal temperature is a reliable way to determine whether the meat is cooked properly.

When reheating meat, it is important to bring it to a safe internal temperature to kill any remaining bacteria. By following these guidelines and taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy a delicious, safe, and perfectly cooked meal.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cooking meat at the correct temperature is essential for food safety and preventing the spread of harmful bacteria.
  2. Using a thermometer or probe to measure the internal temperature of the meat helps ensure it is cooked properly.
  3. Different types of meat have specific safe cooking temperatures and cooking techniques for optimal results.
  4. Proper reheating of meat is necessary to kill any remaining bacteria and prevent foodborne illnesses.

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