This year’s Australian Food Safety Week theme is ‘Is it done yet? Use a thermometer for great food cooked safely every time’.
How does a food thermometer help?
Whole pieces of meat, such as steak, beef, pork and lamb, can be cooked to taste (rare, medium-rare and well done) as long as the outside of the meat is fully cooked to kill external bacteria.
Other types of meat must be thoroughly cooked the whole way through to be considered safe, including:
- rolled and stuffed meats
- tenderised, marinated and moisture enhanced meats
- sausages and minced meat, such as hamburger patties
This is because food poisoning bacteria can be present all the way through these types of meat products as well as on the surface. Only thorough cooking will kill the bacteria.
You can use a thermometer to check the centre of the thickest part reaches 75°C – the safe zone.
Managing the temperature of food you prepare, store and ultimately eat is a defining factor for food safety. Of the many food illness outbreaks that are reported, a majority can be linked to harmful bacteria in food.
Build up of bacteria can be avoided if food is:
- stored at the correct temperature of <5°C
- cooked thoroughly (see above)
- maintained at a hot temperature or rapidly cooled
How to cool down food
- Food should be cooled to <5°C as soon as possible
- Portion food into smaller containers before putting it into the fridge for rapid cooling
- Cool liquid foods like soup, casseroles or stews in shallow containers
- Ensure there is enough space in your fridge for air to circulate around the food
- Place cooling food on shelves, not the floor of the refrigerator
Australian Food Safety Week
This Australian Food Safety Week – the Food Safety Information Council is encouraging all Australians to pick up a food thermometer from their local homeware store and learn how to use it properly. This will not only ensure safer food, but you will also be able to cook the perfect piece of meat. Remember: It’s not just the hot temperatures that matter! Cooling food rapidly after cooking is just as important.
4 simple tips on how to use a food thermometer
- Follow any instructions on the thermometer’s packaging.
- Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, as close to the centre as possible. It should not touch bone, fat, or gristle.
- Start checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before finishing.
- Be sure to clean the stem of your food thermometer before and after each use.