Cooking Temperatures, U.S. Department of Agriculture Guidelines for

Archaeological evidence shows that people have been eating cooked meat since prehistoric times. Cooking meat makes it more tender and easier to chew, which was an advantage from the start when most meat came from wild animals and was probably tough. Most people believe that cooking meat also improves its flavor.

More recently, scientists discovered that many kinds of meat and other foods may carry pathogens and that cooking can kill these pathogens—but only if they are raised to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time. Thus, scientists conducted experiments to determine the temperatures and the required amounts of time that would accomplish this. The availability of meat thermometers has made it possible to standardize cooking recommendations.

This entry focuses on the U.S. Department of ...

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