(Family Features) - Foodborne illnesses increase in the summer because the same warm temperatures best for picnics and cookouts also are ideal for bacteria to grow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year about 76 million people in the United States become ill from harmful bacteria in food. And summertime is the prime time for more people to become ill from their food.
After eating contaminated food, people can develop anything from a short, mild illness -- often called foodborne illness or food poisoning -- to a life-threatening disease. Particularly vulnerable are pregnant women, small children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
The good news is that microbes are killed by heat. Cooking meat, poultry and egg dishes to safe minimum internal temperatures keeps your family safe from harmful bacteria on food.
Seeing Isn't Believing
If a hamburger is brown in the middle, is it done? Not necessarily. Looking at the color and texture of food is not enough. According to the USDA, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature.
The only way to know whether a food is safely cooked is to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer. Food thermometers are affordable and easy to use-and could be what keeps you from getting ill.
Using a Food Thermometer!
- Use an instant-read food thermometer to check the internal temperature toward the end of cooking time.
- Place it in the thickest part of the food, but don't let it touch bone, fat or gristle.
- Check the temperature against the USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart to make sure your food has reached a safe temperature.
- Clean your food thermometer with hot, soapy water before and after each use.
And an added bonus of using a food thermometer-it helps you avoid overcooking that delicious steak.
USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures Chart
- Beef, Lamb and Veal, steaks, roasts, chops: 145° F
- Fish: 145° F
- Pork: 160° F
- Ground Meats: 160° F
- All Poultry: 165° F
To learn more about food thermometers and safe food preparation, transportation and storage, visit www.IsItDoneYet.gov.