There’s a good reason to make sure you’re always cooking your meat to the right temps: foodborne illness.
Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, is when you eat or drink foods that are contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or even poisonous chemicals. There are more than 250 different foodborne illnesses. The top 5 are the most dangerous.
Myths vs. Facts
Myth: Food poisoning is rare and not that serious.
Statistics via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Myth: I will know if I have food poisoning.
Facts: Food poisoning is often blamed on things like “a stomach bug,” but it can have many symptoms.
The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. You could experience all of these or just one. It really depends on what caused it.
Myth: This happened because my food was dirty.
Facts: There are lots of reasons this can happen.
Fresh fruit and veggies can be contaminated if they’re washed in tainted water or touched by unwashed hands or sick people who help process the food.
Some healthy animals have certain kinds of bacteria to help their digestion. These can come in contact with the meat you eat during processing. Salmonella, one of the most dangerous foodborne illnesses, can infect a hen so that its eggs are infected from the start.
Leaving raw food to thaw out of the fridge or leaving cooked food out for too long, like at a potluck or BBQ, can let bacteria grow.
Food coming into contact during cooking with raw meats or dirty cutting boards and knives can spread the bacteria to things that were clean!
What Should I Do?
Heat can kill bacteria, so always make sure you cook your food to the right temperature. You can do this by using a food thermometer.
Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food, but it shouldn’t be touching bone or fat. Check the temp toward the end of cooking but before you think it will be done. And make sure to clean it well with hot, soapy water between each use.
Use these handy guides to cook and grill your food to safe temperatures:
Image via Food Network
Image via Visual News
Wondering how long your food is actually good for? We can help make sense of all those dates!