This research project aims to determine the appropriate cooking times and temperatures for a range of different sizes of bird in both conventional and fan assisted ovens.<P>
The objectives of this project are:
To determine oven performance in terms of temperature distribution and variability between three types of fan assisted ovens
<LI> To design a matrix of experiments with various cooking times for four species of poultry in order to determine safe cooking instructions
<LI> To obtain practical data on temperature measurements, cooking parameters and sensory evaluation to determine optimum cooking conditions
<LI> To obtain practical data to verify the optimum cooking conditions in terms of microbiological reductions using inoculation studies
<LI> To summarise the findings in guidance terms that could be interpreted as safe cooking instructions
Background: The advice given to consumers on the safe cooking of foods has to be very carefully considered in many different aspects. It has to be written in such a way that is easily understood and could not be misinterpreted. It must be applicable to a wide range of cooking appliances with different fuel supplies. The organoleptic quality must be acceptable to the majority of consumers but should not compromise safety in any way. It has been suggested to the Agency that their current advice on cooking times and temperatures for raw poultry, particularly turkey, are too great. This causes the meat to be overcooked and dry, thus impairing the quality of the meat.
The purpose of this project is to provide the Agency with sufficient evidence of adequate cooking times and temperatures for a range of different sized birds (turkey, chicken, goose and duck) that will ensure microbiological safety whilst maintaining the organoleptic qualities of each type of cooked poultry. The main assessments will be using fan assisted ovens with confirmation and comparison of findings (together with appropriate adjustments) for conventional ovens (i.e. gas, electric). These trials will be co-ordinated with sensory assessment of a number of the cooked birds in relation to the sensory quality achieved. The optimum combinations will be verified to achieve microbiological stability and safety according to the determined number of microbial log reductions achieved. These data will also be provided in the form of a combination of physical temperature measurements with sensory quality evaluations based on appearance (internal and external), flavour and texture/mouthfeel of both the white and dark meat.<P>
Research Approach: Data will be gathered on the temperature distribution and variability within the 3 selected fan assisted and conventional ovens at defined cooking temperatures. <P>
A literature search will be carried out to review all possible sources of information on cooking times and temperatures including industry, retail, cookery recipe books and collate the range of cooking instructions available for turkey, chicken, goose and duck. <P>
Appropriate cooking times will be defined and included in the experimental matrix and variations on cooking practices (such as basting the bird, opening the oven door during cooking and the use of foil) will also be considered.<P>
Data will be obtained to develop the optimum cooking instructions for time and temperature using calibrated time/temperature data logging techniques based on achieving 70oC for 2 minutes. Several probes will be used for each trial and will be placed in various positions in the birds (turkey, chicken, goose and duck) to maximise the amount of data that can be obtained, for example, temperatures will be monitored in the breast meat, thigh, body cavity and near the surface.<P>
Gathering of data on the organoleptic quality of the cooked poultry will be carried out by a trained quality team who will evaluate 1 sample from each test parameter and describe attribute groups in relation to external appearance of the whole bird, internal appearance (white and dark meat), flavour and texture/mouthfeel (white meat and dark meat). The overall quality grade will then be awarded for each sample using a CCFRA assessment scale for sensory quality grading ranging from 1 – bad quality to 9 – excellent quality.<P>
Obtain confirmation and comparison of findings (together with appropriate adjustments) for conventional ovens (i.e. gas, electric). Experiments in this section will be repeated for all species of poultry and will confirm the optimum conditions.<P>
The lethal effect of the optimum cooking conditions microbiologically will be evaluated by challenging the set time/temperature regimes by inoculating raw poultry with a set concentration of known pathogens (i.e. a cocktail of 5 different strains of each Salmonella and Campylobacter, all previously isolated from foods) of known heat resistance characteristics and determining the number of log reductions achieved.<P>
Data will be collated and presented in format suitable for inclusion in an updated version of the FSA "poultry cooking calculator".
Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.