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Cooking Temperature Chart

  • Your food products need to be cooked to the correct and safe internal temperature to render them free from harmful bacteria and other pathogenic microorganisms.

  • The required internal temperature depends on the food material you are using as well as its type and form.

  • A cooking temperature chart is a written document of the established and recommended internal cooking temperatures for specific food materials.

Reaching the correctly prescribed internal temperature in cooking is the main principle of applying heat to different types of food and is an important step for food handlers. This basic food safety practice renders dangerous bacteria inactive and unable to cause foodborne illnesses. Some of the most prominent pathogens including S.aureus, E. coli, Salmonella, Coxiella burnetti, and Campylobacter are easily inactivated using proper thermal processing. With all the different prescribed time and temperature combinations in cooking different materials to address a target pathogen, your team may have occasional lapses in processing. To make the process more organized and free from a blunder, using a cooking temperature chart would be best.

Different types of foods such as vegetables, raw meat, poultry, seafood, fruit, as well as liquid materials including milk, juice, and sauce require different heating times and temperatures. This principle is because of the complex nature of food materials. In some cases, different meats can be enjoyed based on personal preference. A few degrees below target temperature can entirely change the outcome of the cooking process. Our cooking temperature chart template can help you compose your very own cooking internal temperature chart consisting of all the ingredients you use in your operations. Ensure that your team does not forget at which core temperature does your chicken has to be cooked or your beef and seafood to create safe and exciting products. 

In this article, we'll briefly go through what is the significance of cooking temperature and why it's necessary to measure it when following your HACCP plan. Feel free to use our free cooking temperature chart template above.

 

What is a food's internal temperature?

Put simply, internal or core temperature is the temperature at the innermost portion of a food product. It's an important parameter to determine your food is cooked all the way through or not. Targeting the core of your food ensures that all parts of your raw food are cooked and subjected to the correct and safe temperature to inactivate harmful bacteria and other pathogens that can cause any foodborne illness. Most bacteria thrive in the outer portion of your food. Because of the complex composition of foods, the time it takes for heat to travel the center of your material greatly varies. This thermal center is the basis for the establishment of cooking recommendations for the perfect temperature.

As an example, a pork material would normally need a higher temperature or longer heating time than that of a fish. This fact is because pork contains fat that slows down the speed of heat traveling. Additionally, pork has a more compact structure of proteins than fish. The same rationale is used when comparing the cooking temperature for vegetables and poultry. This point is where using a cooking temperature chart comes in handy. As a food business, you will surely use different kinds of ingredients. The cooking temperature may also vary in terms of the food material's form. Ground beef usually requires a higher meat temperature during cooking than lean meat since the potentially contaminated meat surface has been processed and distributed throughout the materials.

A food's internal temp is measured using a cooking thermometer or a digital food thermometer. It's impossible to evaluate just by visually observing the food to know whether the food is cooked enough, so that's why you need to measure it. These types of thermometers can also be used as freezer thermometer.

Before we can start enjoying cooked foods, the food has to pass a long way in different supply chain stages either for professional kitchens or home use.

It means that one piece of meat usually spends a significant amount of cooking time in different stores and transportation vehicles where the storage temperature needs to be covered and ensured. Cold storage similarly affects the cooking temp of your material. If poultry meat comes straight out of the cold storage, preoperational methods such as thawing are done. This step ensures that the meat is evenly cooked without overdoing the outer layer even before the center gets cooked.

Failure to achieve the standard cooking temperature may put your consumers at risk of getting unsafe food. Several cases of gastrointestinal illness are reported every year due to consuming undercooked foods. Such events may significantly affect your business. 

 

Food temperature chart as part of the documentation

Cooking temperature charts are an invaluable part of a proper Food Safety Management System. Hitting the correct internal temperature is one of the key critical control points in food processing. Whether you are using a grill, oven, or a frying pan to cook your food, reaching the correct internal temperature is an absolute food safety necessity. In implementing your HACCP plan, your updated temperature logs on your cooking temperature chart are an important part of your commitment to food safety. Food safety audits would normally involve verification activities directed towards your internal temperature cooking charts.

Not sure how to make your food temp chart and other monitoring forms of your HACCP plan? Go and check some of the most common food safety management documents from our HACCP plan template hub.

food temp chart

Customize your food temp chart

Your food temp chart must be customized based on the food products that you are serving in your food establishment. This document will become an essential part of your daily operations in producing safe food. A good food temperature chart must have an accurate description of which food is being described, the type of cooking method used, and the prescribed temperature to cook it.

Remember that although two of your food product may be made from the same type of raw material, the type of cooking method or the form of your fresh meat will vary the cooking temperature. As an example, the cooking temp to make meat mixtures or ground beef safe is expected to be less harsh than that of fresh meat steak cut. Similarly, different cuts of meat will require different cooking temperatures.

Your best chance to make the cooking temp chart that is a perfect fit for your operations is trying out our cooking temperature chart template. Our templates can be customized based on your needs.

 

How to measure food internal temperature?

The best way to check and ensure a consistent cooking temperature is through the use of a food thermometer. Food thermometers are specially designed with a probe to easily puncture the meat and measure the temperature from its tip. Some user-friendly food thermometers such as an instant-read food thermometer work best for fast-paced restaurants. To make sure that your temperature reading is accurate, you should orient your assigned employee with the proper steps on how to correctly measure temperature. This step includes instructions such as inserting the thermometer midway and not too close to the outer layer of the food or avoiding fiddling with the probe.

Below are the proper steps on how to measure the internal temperature of your food:

STEP 1. Pick the correct device – a thermometer probe that is ready to use.

Make sure the thermometer is right and is calibrated to be used correctly.

Some food businesses also have an infrared thermometer that can be pointed at food to measure its hot surface temperature. These thermometers are not effective for measuring the internal temperature of your food since they can only detect surface temp. 

A common probe thermometer is specially designed to detect the temperature of your food at approximately 10 seconds after inserting it into your food. A modern probe digital thermometer uses an automatic display panel for faster and more accurate temperature reading. Other more modern devices feature an instant-read thermometer.

STEP 2. Clean and sanitize the probe.

To measure the temperature of your food, you are required to insert the probe into the product. The whole thermometer must be always cleaned and sanitized before use. If the probe is not cleaned enough, pathogens and allergens may spread through cross-contamination. In addition, the sanitation of your thermometer must be done before and after every inspection.

STEP 3. Insert thermometer probe.

Insert the thermometer midway in a downward angle into the food. The core temperature is always taken from the thickest part of the food! The point where you measure the temperature of your product is very important. Inserting it at only a couple inches from the exterior portion may be a very shallow angle and will not give you an accurate reading of your product's temperature.

STEP 4. Check the temperature.

The thickness of a standard probe was designed to give you an accurate temperature reading at approximately 10 seconds. For a digital cooking thermometer, allow the cooked temperature reading to stabilize. Most digital thermometers indicate that the reading has reached stability. Depending on the type and form of food you are cooking, your target cooked temperature will vary. The standard holding time at these target core temperatures is maintained at least 2 minutes!

Check the standard temperature according to your cooking temperature chart!

STEP 5. Record the temperature.

Depending on your HACCP plan risk analyses, you may also need to record the core temperature on your cooking logs. This serves as a record-keeping document for your monitoring procedures and later verification activities. These documents also serve as proof of the proper implementation of your HACCP food safety management system. Make sure you follow all your food safety rules regarding temperature logs on time. Use any digital software to keep in mind and archive all food safety tasks.

STEP 6. Clean and sanitize AGAIN.

After every use, clean and sanitize your core thermometer to prevent any food contamination. Use soapy water that is just warm to clean it. Check from your cleaning schedule, which cleaning supplies to use. Additionally, place your thermometer in a safe spot where it will not be damaged or compromised. 

Food serving temperature chart

Don't forget to calibrate your thermometers!

Before using a probe, food handlers should be sure that the probe is calibrated to work accurately because the thermometer must always be accurate to +/-1°F. Even the most excellent thermometer must be periodically calibrated to ensure the accuracy of the actual temperature. The calibration schedule and period are determined in your calibration plan. Depending on the brand and quality of your thermometer, calibration may be scheduled every quarter of the year or at least once a week. Traditional, metal probes usually need frequent calibration to check their accuracy. 

Cooking thermometers require periodic calibration to verify their performance of detecting proper temperature. It means you need to check periodically that your thermometer is working correctly and is reading the actual temperature. For traditional probes, the thermometers are dipped in solutions with a predetermined temperature and your instrument's readings are compared with that of the standard. Other methods dip the thermometer in boiling water to read its boiling point temperature. In combination with this, the same probe is dipped into cold water to verify the reading. More advanced thermometers often a digital meat thermometers, require special services from their manufacturer's representatives. 

 

Most common calibration methods:

Calibration is an important step for food handlers to ensure that your cooking temperature logs are accurate and that you are operating at a high standard of safe cooking temperature. Common calibration methods may include:

1. Hot calibration method – place the probe of your digital food thermometer into boiling water and check if the temperature is between the boiling point temperature of 210°F and 214°F.

2. Cold calibration method – place the probe into an ice and cold water mixture. Check if the temperature is between 30.2°F and 34°F while submerged in the cold water.

If the temperature is not within the standard temperature range, adjust your thermometer to the correct temperature while still in the water. Similarly, you can countercheck your results by dipping a recently calibrated spare thermometer and comparing the results. If you don't have an adjustable thermometer, ask a professional service provider to do it for you.

Food Safety Management System

What are minimum standard cooking temperatures?

The cooking temperature standards and internal core temperature description may have little difference between countries and states and depend on the food (check the cooking recommendations in the food internal temperature chart template above). The standard advice is to thoroughly cook food and hold it at the recommended internal constant temperature for 2 minutes to create a firm center. The recommended internal temperature will vary depending on the type of food you are cooking.

Food should always be cooked thoroughly to kill the target pathogen or stop bacterial growth and prevent the production of hazardous food. The principles behind the targeted internal temperature and required cooking times for processing are that these combinations represent the required parameters at which the target foodborne bacteria are most susceptible. Multiplication of pathogens is usually fastest in the ‘Temperature Danger Zone,' which is between 40°F and 140°F. This range is considered critical food safety temperatures. Food products are more likely to spoil and cause food poisoning if kept in this temperature range for an extended period. That's why refrigerators operate at 42°F and lower. Below this range, the growth is stopped or slowed down, whereas, above 158°F, most pathogens start to die. 

 

Meat temperature chart

As mentioned, the standard internal temperature required for different types of foods varies depending on the type of raw foods you have. Proper cooking temperature categories for meats such as pork is at least 145°F to 160°F of internal temperature before removing from the heat source with a three-minute rest time before carving. Other fresh meats such as beef, veal, and lamb require the same conditions as pork, that is 145°F to 160°F with a three-minute rest time. Such category temperature for meat gives a medium to a well-done degree of doneness. Medium beef doneness is seen as your favorite doneness with a slightly cool center with a hint of pink color. This degree of cooking is famous for premium steaks such as an Angus beef cut. On the other hand, delicious recipes for a well-done steak are described with a seared exterior indicating a firm and fully brown, warm center. A very pink center is indicative of undercooking together with having a cooler center. The other doneness internal core temperature internal description can be found from a steak temperature chart. Use a steak temperature chart to ace your steak game.

Emphasis is given to the indicated "rest time" for cooked dark meat, which is the period when the meat is set aside from the heat source to a rack to cool which is usually three minutes before carving. This step allows the residual heat to continue the cooking process in less harsh conditions otherwise known as carryover cooking. This standard cooking temp holds for smoked, cured, and cooked meat products such as ham. On the contrary, when you are using cooked ham and you intend to reheat it, the internal cooking temperatures must at least reach 165°F.  Some charts for different temperatures for meat would also include the directions that are for a specific part. Using beef brisket temperature to cook steak may not be applicable for making beef tenderloin roast. The same principle applies to different cuts of pork such as pork chops and pork butt. 

It's quite a different case when it comes to ground pork and other meats such as hamburger patties or beef sausages. This type of raw meat is known to have a higher count of microorganisms because it has already undergone processing. The bacteria from the exterior portion of fresh meat is introduced to the other parts when they are ground. As such, the recommended processing for ground meat, which includes products such as hamburger patties, cooking temp is at 71°C or 160°F with no resting as commonly used for a burger recipe. Remove burgers from heat once the internal temperature is reached.

 

Poultry temperature chart

Poultry meat which includes chicken products as well as turkey and game birds has a different cooking temperature chart. This type of meat is quite more sensitive and is not advised in any way to be eaten rare or even a bit undercooked as they can cause foodborne illness. As such, your chicken temperature chart must indicate a minimum recommendation of 165°F and proper chicken cooking times for any individual recipes. This applies to all parts of a chicken or turkey including thighs, breast meat, giblets, and others. In cooking poultry such as chicken, the thermometer probe must be inserted in the thickest part which is usually the chicken breast. Similar safe cooking temperatures are advised for ground poultry including ground chicken and turkey and whole parts of poultry such as raw chicken breast and chicken thighs. A few degrees below target temperature increases the risk of causing foodborne illnesses to consumers.

Related to poultry, egg dishes and related products mixed with raw eggs require medium heat at 160°F as their ideal temperature for cooking. This includes egg-based sauces and other eggy dishes.

 

Cooking temperature for fish and other kinds of seafood

Because seafood, particularly fish and shellfish such as lobster, have less connective tissue such as cartilage and shorter muscle fiber than meats and poultry, they require gentler technique. The general rule for these raw materials is to reach the internal temperature of at least 145°F for only 15 seconds which should be in your seafood or fish temperature chart. Seafood would have an opaque to shiny white cooked color as an indication of its doneness. Delicious seafood dishes can also often be eaten raw for dishes such as sushi but requires a very high level of food handling practices to significantly reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Fish, such as tuna, that is used for sushi must be at least sashimi-grade tuna.

 

Important cooking temperature documents

Monitoring your cooking temperature log makes up a huge chunk of your HACCP plan. Complete documentation of your cooking processes is required to emphasize that your Food Safety Management System is well-established. Here are some of the cooking temperature documents needed to avoid a food safety violation.

1. Cooking temperature chart. This document contains the prescribed food-safe cooking temperatures for cooking specific ingredients in your process operations. It can act as a guide to cooking temperatures for different types of meat.

2. Cooking chapter with proper hazard analyses in your HACCP plan. This segment includes the analysis of hazards you are trying to eliminate or control as well as the rationale of applying cooking to the material. This document must also include the monitoring procedures as well as verification activities involved when checking your cooking temperature logs. Remind your employees of temperature guidelines to prevent the spread of hazards.

3. Cooking temperature logs to register the results. This document will act as your monitoring form for logging differences in temperature checks on your cooking operations. Our cooking log template was built taking into account the necessary information needed in monitoring such as logs on time as well as in cases of non-compliance to the established critical limits. What's even better is that this template is completely customizable and you can edit every section to fit your operations.

4. Consumer advisory to protect highly susceptible customers. An advisory is a written statement for your consumers notifying them of the risk of consuming raw or food cooked a few degrees below target temperature. Failure to inform customers is no excuse for food safety. Employees must be oriented about how to use this document.

 

Not sure where to start with your food safety checklists? Don't have enough time? Our digital food safety management system at FoodDocs can help you automate every temperature log and ensure that no food safety task is left undone. Our digital FSMS is the solution we offer for these technologically advanced times in the food industry. Become food safety compliant in just an average of 15 minutes and make sure all your cooking internal temperature charts and logs are in place by using our services. Try our free, 14-day trial and start your digital FSMS journey now.

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