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New Temperature Recommendations Bring Tastier Meat to the Holiday Table

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For release November 19, 2012

When it comes to holiday meals, flavor is foremost, whether it’s the traditional big holiday turkey, small rolled beef roast or a salmon fillet. The cut you start with is important, but so is the cooking temperature. Following the updated cooking temperature recommendations released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A) keeps meats safe as well as tender and delicious.

U.S.D.A. gave us only three numbers to remember:

145°F for all steaks, roasts and chops with a 3-minute rest. This includes beef, pork, veal and lamb. U.S.D.A. found that the three-minute rest makes meat just as safe as cooking to the previously recommended 160°F. Lower temperature means a moister meat with more flavor.

Beef and pork will be pink at this temperature. The redness is not blood. It is something called myoglobin which holds oxygen in muscle. Today’s lean pork loin roasts dry out easily, so cooking them to the lower temperature helps keep pork tender.

145°F for most seafood. The thermometer is best, but unlike for meats, you can tell when seafood is done by looking at it. Fish, such as salmon, should be opaque and separate easily with a fork

160°F for all ground meat except poultry. Because bacteria on the outside of meat gets mixed into the product during grinding, the higher temperature is important.

165°F for all poultry. Use this to gauge the doneness and safety of whole birds, pieces and ground turkey or chicken. This lower temperature keeps breast meat moist.

Use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if the temperature of meat is safe by looking at it. Thermometers are located in the utensil section of the baking aisle or by the meat department at Hy-Vee - or ask one of our friendly smiles for the location at your store.

Instant-read thermometers are easy to use. Look for the small indentations on the probe and insert the thermometer deep enough into the meat to cover the indentations. Remove the thermometer before putting meat back in the oven or on the grill.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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