Keep bacteria like salmonella and E. coli out of your dishes by following these dos and don’ts

Apron - Masterfile


  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water, rubbing gently with your hands—even if you’re not going to eat the skin or rind
  • Use a dedicated cutting board for produce and another board for raw meats and fish.
  • When refrigerating hot leftovers, divide the food in small containers so it cools quickly.
  • Make sure your refrigerator is set to 40 degrees F or lower and that your freezer is set to zero.
  • Always wash your hands in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds after handling food.


  • Thaw frozen meats at room temperature. Instead, thaw them in the fridge (about six hours per pound).
  • Wash meats or fish before cooking—it actually increases the risk of spreading bacteria.
  • Stuff a turkey tightly—doing so doesn’t allow the stuffing to heat enough (165 °F) to kill bacteria.
  • Eat raw or undercooked eggs. Heat them to 160 ° F.
  • Eat unpasteurized dairy products, raw or undercooked fish or cold lunch meats if you have diabetes—you could be especially susceptible to the bacteria they may contain.

From our sister publication, Diabetes Focus (Winter 2010)

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures

Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

Remember, you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Any cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.

Why the Rest Time is Important: After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

How to Use a Food Thermometer: Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food. It should not touch bone, fat, or gristle. Start checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before you expect it to be done. Be sure to clean your food thermometer with hot soapy water before and after each use.

Meat & Poultry

  • Ground beef, pork, veal, lamb—160°F
  • Ground turkey or chicken—165°F
  • Steaks, roasts, chops—145°F, rest for 3 minutes
  • Whole chicken or turkey—165°F
  • Poultry breasts, roasts—165°F
  • Poultry thighs, legs, wings—165°F
  • Duck & goose—165°F
  • Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)—165°F
  • Fresh pork—145°F, rest for 3 minutes
  • Fresh ham (raw)—145°F, rest for 3 minutes
  • Precooked ham (to reheat)—140°F


  • Fin fish—145°F or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
  • Shrimp, lobster, and crabs—Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque.
  • Clams, oysters, and mussels—Cook until shells open during cooking.
  • Scallops—Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.

Eggs and Egg Dishes

  • Eggs—cook until yolk and white are firm
  • Egg dishes—160°F

Leftovers & Casseroles

  • Leftovers—165°F
  • Casseroles—165°F


Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 07 Dec 2011

Last Modified: 05 Jan 2015