Do you know the safe cooking temperatures for high-risk foods?

By Nichola Murphy
Wednesday, 15 November, 2017

This week is Australian Food Safety Week 2017, and a survey released by the Food Safety Information Council aims to raise awareness about this year’s theme: ‘Is it done yet? Use a thermometer for great food, cooked safely every time.’

Surprisingly, 70% of respondents stated they didn’t know the safe cooking temperature for high-risk foods, which is contributing to the 4.1 million cases of foodborne disease each year.

“Even worse, of those that reported they did know the correct temperature, most were wrong, with 15% saying below the safe temperature of 75°C and 9% stating it should be 100°C or more, which would be a pretty burnt piece of food,” said Food Safety Information Council Chair Rachelle Williams.

This could be due to the fact that they either don’t possess or fail to use the correct kitchen utensils that would help them make safer cooking decisions, such as a thermometer.

Although the survey revealed that three quarters of Australians don’t own a thermometer, what was more concerning was the fact that of those who did, only 44% reported using it over the previous month.

Williams stressed the importance of not only owning one, but also learning how to use it properly to prevent escalating rates of Campylobacter and Salmonella infection and ensure food safety.

“You should place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, as close to the centre as possible, and it should not touch bone, fat or gristle. Start checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before you expect it to be done. Be sure to clean the stem of your food thermometer before and after each use,” she stated.

Other recommendations from the council include cooking sausages, mince, poultry, liver and all leftovers to 75°C in the centre, as they are most likely to be contaminated throughout. However, whole cuts of red meats such as steaks and chops can be cooked at slightly lower temperatures depending on taste — well done is 77°C, medium 71°C and medium rare 63°C in the centre. It is recommended that fish fillets are cooked to around 69°C or when flesh flakes easily.

“These tips can be downloaded in poster form from our website, which we suggest you stick up in your kitchen. Use a thermometer for great food, cooked safely every time,” Williams concluded.

For more information about safe cooking temperatures for high-risk foods, or to find out more about Australian Food Safety Week 2017, please click here.

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