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Evaluation of Cooking Instructions and Methods for Uncooked Beef Products

Investigators
Bellinger, Gina; Warren-Serna, Wendy
Institutions
Food Safety Net Services (FSNS)
Start date
2001
End date
2002
Objective

The primary questions addressed by this study were: (1) Is the consumer provided basic information to cook their products safely; and (2) When cooking instructions are provided, are they clear, concise and adequate to meet the FSIS safe temperature recommendations?

More information

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), perishable foods must be held at proper cooling temperatures for bacterial growth inhibition and cooked to internal temperatures high enough to kill harmful pathogens. Internal temperatures recommended to consumers by FSIS range from 145°F for whole muscle beef cuts (e.g. steaks) to 170°F for non-intact (e.g. ground beef) beef products. FSIS information states that most pathogens are destroyed between 140 and 160°F. While this information is publicly available, it may not be present on food packaging in a format that would lead consumers to use cooking procedures that achieve internal temperatures high enough to kill pathogens. A better understanding of the role that temperature plays in food safety, and further, the cooking methods required to achieve internal temperatures that kill pathogens is essential to the prevention of food-borne illnesses due to undercooked beef products.

Commercially available thermometers are the only accurate way to determine the internal temperature of cooked beef products. Several commercial thermometers provide an accurate reading within 2 to 4°F and are inexpensive and easy to use, but do consumers actually utilize them in the home environment? “Cooked thoroughly” is part of the Safe Handling Instructions placed by law on all raw beef products, but how many consumers know what this really means? For example, do consumers know the FSIS recommended guidelines for internal temperatures for cooking fresh beef are as follows: (1) medium rare, 145°F; (2) medium, 160°F; and (3) well done, 170°F? Furthermore, do consumers know to cook ground beef products to at least 160ºF?

Funding Source
Nat'l. Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Project source
View this project
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Chemical Contaminants
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game