One of the many things you will learn during the education process to earn your Texas food handlers’ license is safe cooking temperatures. You will quickly discover that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to food temperature control because each food group is different.
Whether you need a refresher or you’re about to take the food handlers course, the following information may prove useful.
What Is the Recommended Internal Temperature For Cooked Ground Meat?
Ground meat and meat mixtures such as beef, pork, veal, and lamb, should be cooked until they have an internal temperature of 160°F. However, turkey and chicken would need to be cooked until they are 165°F.
Use a meat thermometer to accurately determine the temperature, rather than relying on the external temperature gauges of holding dishes. When it comes to safe storage of ground meat, you can safely refrigerate it at 40°F or below for 1-2 days or freeze it at 0°F or below for three to four months.
What Temperature Is Beef Done?
To avoid foodborne illnesses, great care must be taken with all high-risk food groups to ensure they are safe for consumption. Part of this process involves making sure you cook, refrigerate, and freeze at the appropriate temperatures.
Regarding steak, roasts, and chops from fresh beef, veal, and lamb, there is a combination of different ways to make sure they are cooked and served to perfection.
Start by cooking them until they have an internal temperature of 145°F. You then need to allow them to rest for three minutes before serving to customers.
Cooking the perfect steak may require closer attention during the cooking process. A rare steak can be cooked for 1.5 minutes on each side, with an extra 30 seconds on each side for medium-rare.
A medium steak requires 2 ¼ minutes per side to achieve the perfect amount of heat, while a well-done steak may need to cook for 4-5 minutes each side, depending on how thick it is. Like other steaks, roasts, and chops, it must also be left to rest for at least three minutes.
If you are not serving your steaks, roasts, and chops straight away, then appropriate refrigeration and freezing are necessary. Uncooked and uncured, they remain safe in a refrigerator at 40°F or below for between three to five days and up to six months in a freezer at 0°F or below.
What Temperature Is Chicken Done?
All parts of a chicken, including the breasts, legs, thighs, wings, ground chicken, the stuffing, giblets, and the whole bird, should be cooked until they/it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, and it should be noted that temperature control for poultry is extremely important. It can be stored in a fridge at 40°F or below for 1-2 days before cooking. A whole uncooked chicken will be safe in a freezer for up to a year, while chicken pieces are safe for up to nine months.
However, if they are cooked, they may be safe for up to a week and safe in a freezer for between one to two months. Cooked poultry, though, will only remain safe for consumption in a fridge for up to four days or between two and six months in a freezer.
If the chicken is processed, such as in nugget or patty form, it can remain in a fridge for between 3-4 days or a freezer for up to three months.
Wherever you store it, though, make sure it’s packaged appropriately and doesn’t come into contact with fresh fruit and vegetables. Otherwise, you may put your customers at risk of foodborne illnesses due to cross-contamination.
What Temperature To Cook Pork Correctly?
Pork and ham can be tricky beasts because they come in such a wide variety of types and with different cooking processes. Precooked hams can be reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F. However, if you have a cooked ham that has been packaged in a USDA-inspected plant, you can reheat it to 140°F.
The way in which you safely store ham can depend on the processing, cooking, and preparation. We’ve included a list of options and their appropriate storage timeframes below. Always store ham and pork at 0°F or below in the freezer and 40°F or below in the fridge.
Uncured, uncooked: 3-5 days refrigerated, six months frozen
Uncured, cooked: 3-4 days refrigerated, 3-4 months frozen
Cured, uncooked: 5-7 days refrigerated, 3-4 months frozen
Cooked, vacuum-sealed: 2 weeks refrigerated (or the use-by date), 1-2 months frozen
Cooked and store-wrapped whole: 1 week refrigerated, 1-2 months frozen
Cooked, sliced, and store-wrapped: 3-5 days refrigerated, 1-2 months frozen
Cooked country ham: 1 week refrigerated, 1 month frozen
Unopened canned ham: 6-9 months if labeled ‘refrigerate,’ and do not freeze.
What Temperature Should Eggs Be Stored At?
It may come as a surprise to many, but eggs and dishes containing eggs fall into the category of a high-risk food group. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk and white are both firm. Egg dishes should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
How you store them before or after cooking can depend on their forms, such as raw in the shell, hard-cooked, or egg substitute.
Raw in shell: 3-5 weeks refrigerated, 1 year frozen
Raw egg whites and yolk separate: 2-4 days refrigerated, 12 months frozen (yolks do not freeze well)
Raw egg accidentally frozen: use immediately after thawing, refrigerate to thaw
Hard-boiled egg: 1 week refrigerated, do not freeze
Unopened liquid egg substitute: 1 week refrigerated, do not freeze
Opened liquid egg substitute: 3 days refrigerated, do not freeze
Pies and quiches with eggs: 3-4 days after baking. Freeze pies for 1-2 months, and quiches for 2-3 months. Do not freeze custard or chiffon pies.
What Is the Minimal Internal Cooking Temperature for Seafood?
As delicious as seafood is to eat, it also makes up one of the highest-risk food groups. As a result, food handlers must take great care to ensure they store, cook, and serve seafood at the safest temperatures.
Fish with fins should be cooked until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. Typically, this is at an internal temperature of 145°F. Scallops, crab, lobster, and shrimp, should also be cooked until the flesh is white and opaque.
Clams, mussels, and oysters require you to cook them until the shells open during the cooking process.
Fish with fins should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 1-2 days. Keep the fish as cold as possible by storing it on ice. If you will not use it within two days from fresh, wrap it in moisture-proof bags and store it in the freezer.
All shellfish should be purchased live in their shells and put in shallow pans without water. Store in the refrigerator with moistened paper towels over the top.
Use clams and mussels within 2-3 days, and oysters with 7-10 days. You can also store shucked shellfish in sealed containers. All live crabs and lobsters should be cooked on the day they are purchased. Make sure all seafood is refrigerated at 40°F or below or frozen at 0°F or below.
Become the Master of Safe Cooking Temperatures
As complicated as it might seem to learn how to store and cook food to a safe temperature, it’s a straightforward process. You can learn everything there is to know for your Texas food handlers card by taking the food handlers course at TABC pronto.
Once you understand the safe cooking and storing temperatures, you can use food thermometers to measure temperatures and keep records to ensure you’re providing safe food for your customers.