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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Consumers – Increase Cook Temperature and Thermometer Use

hamburger cooking.jpgA new poll commissioned by the American Meat Institute (AMI) and conducted by Harris Interactive found that while almost nine out of 10 U.S. adults (88 percent) cook hamburgers or poultry (chicken or turkey) burgers, only 19 percent of those who do use an instant read thermometer to determine that the burgers are safely cooked and ready to eat (i.e., “doneness”). Approximately 73 percent of adults who cook hamburgers or poultry burgers incorrectly rely on sight to determine doneness and 57 percent incorrectly rely on cooking time.

Of concern: only 13 percent of adults aged 18-34 who cook hamburgers or poultry burgers, many of whom may prepare food for small children at home, use an instant read thermometer to determine doneness when cooking hamburgers or poultry burgers. Seventy-eight percent of this age group rely on sight, which is not an accurate indicator of doneness, to determine if the burger is cooked properly.

In terms of proper cooking temperatures, only one in five U.S. adults (20 percent) knows a hamburger should be cooked to 160 degree F to ensure it is safe to consume, while 41 percent mistakenly believe that hamburgers should be cooked to a temperature less than 160 degrees F, according to the poll.

Nearly half of U.S. adults (47 percent) believe that poultry burgers should be cooked to a temperature less than 165 degrees F. Only 13 percent know that a poultry burger should be cooked to 165 degree F to ensure it is safe to consume.

  • I’m guilty of not checking temps. I do overcook chicken in the oven to be safe. I would like a thermometer,but never think of one when I’m out and about.

  • Terry

    It would help to see names of specific recommended thermometers to use.That is, as evaluated by a certified testing agency.

  • @Terry: Consumer Reports tests meat thermometers (I don’t know if you would consider us a ‘certified testing agency’ but we like to think we’re pretty thorough). http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/kitchen-appliances/meat-thermometers/meat-thermometers/overview/meat-thermometers-ov.htm

  • WillBkool

    As far as I’m concerned, the best digital thermometer is the the Thermapen. While it’s a bit pricey at around $100, it’s what the food inspectors in my area use and a lot of professional cooks as well. It truly is instant, about 2-3 seconds. Try a Taylor digital thermometer and you will have to wait much longer, plus the battery is soldered in, making replacement nearly impossible.

  • Mary

    A shrewd meat industry group would run a thermometer give-away program for the PR.

  • I have used a thermometer for years. I worked in a meat plant a number of years ago and learned how important the temperature is for cooked meat.

  • jackson

    looking for help finding a thermometer that has a mechanical arm so that i can attach it to the side of the pan, pot, etc and more easily (and accurately) read the temp. of food product… does one exist?
    any and all info. would be great…

  • One thing people often neglect, even those in the hospitality industry, is the storage temperature. Food needs to be stored at the correct temperature. You can use a thermometer, but how do you know what the temperature is when you’re not there taking readings? That’s why temperature loggers are becoming more popular. You set them to automatically record temperatures, and that way you always have an idea of what the storage temperature is. Some of the better ones even have built in alarms so you know instantly if there is an issue. I’m surprised more people don’t use these things.

  • Stuffed and rolled meats require longer roasting times as they have more layers for the heat to penetrate. These are best cooked to well done. The internal temperature of the meat should be taken in two different places.