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Internal Temperature for Beef, Birds, Fish, Lamb, and Venison

Meat thermometers stuck in steaks on the grillurban_light /Depositphotos

Never risk food poisoning again with our go-to guide for safe internal temperatures for all types of meat.

Recipes may tell you how long to cook proteins and at what temperature. But the only way to truly know if those sizzling steaks, pork chops, or chicken breasts are ready to eat is by checking the internal temperature.

Cooking times are a good guide, but if you really want to take your cooking to the next level and serve food that’s both delicious and safe to eat, you need to invest in a good meat thermometer. Trust us, these things are worth every penny.

Safe Internal Temperature

ProteinInternal TemperatureResting Time
Beef145°F / 62.8°C3 minutes
Ground beef160°F / 71.1°C
Lamb145°F / 62.8°C3 minutes
Ground lamb160°F / 71.1°C
Pork145°F / 63°C3 minutes
Ground pork160°F / 71.1°C
Poultry165°F / 73.8°C
Ground poultry165°F / 73.8°C
Seafood145°F / 62.8°C
Veal145°F / 62.8°C3 minutes
Ground veal160°F / 71.1°C
Venison145°F / 62.8°C3 minutes
Ground venison160°F / 71.1°C

According to the website of the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, beef, veal, and pork must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C), and ground or minced beef and pork to 160°F (71.1°C).

Lamb roasts and cuts, an article at AskUSDA recommends, should be cooked to 145°F (62.8°C). Ground or minced lamb, to 160°F (71.1°C).

An article at the University of Minnesota’s website puts the safe internal temperature of venison roasts and cuts at 145°F / 62.8°C, and of ground venison at 160°F / 71.1°C. In soups and stews, the article adds, venison should be cooked to 165°F / 73.8°C for safety.

Poultry — including chicken, duck, fowl, and turkey — must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°C (73.8°C). This temperature is required for the safe cooking of whole birds, bird cuts, and ground poultry alike.

Seafood, like whole fish, fish filets, scallops, shrimp, crab, and others, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F / 62.8°C.

Does the Meat’s Color Matter?

If you’re relying on the color of the juices or the flesh of the meat to determine doneness, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t trust cookbook authors or food bloggers who tell you to go by appearance — it’s not reliable. The only way to know for sure if your protein is cooked to perfection is by using a meat thermometer.

That steak or chicken breast may still be slightly pink on the inside and yet be cooked to the right internal temperature. It could also be gray and appear done when it’s really undercooked, posing a risk of food poisoning.

The moral of the story?

Don’t go by the color of your meat alone to determine doneness. Use a meat thermometer to ensure your beef, pork, and poultry are cooked to deliciousness and won’t make you sick.

Why Is Meat’s Internal Temperature So Important?

When it comes to cooking meat, there’s one thing that’s absolutely crucial to get right: the internal temperature. No matter how good your cooking skills are, if you don’t cook your meat to the correct internal temperature, you’re putting yourself — and anyone else you’re preparing food for — at risk for food poisoning.

Here’s why: Bacteria that can cause food poisoning, like Salmonella and E. coli, can live on the surface of raw meat. When you cook the meat, the heat from the grill or oven will kill off these bacteria on the surface. But if the internal temperature of the meat doesn’t reach a high enough level, the bacteria on the inside of the meat may still be alive and well.

Remember that it takes time for the heat to reach the center of that protein, especially if you’re grilling up a thick-cut steak or roasting a big hunk of meat. And don’t be fooled by the meat’s juices, color, or firmness – they don’t give you the whole picture.

So use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your meat before serving it. Different types of meat have different safe internal temperatures, so consult with the table above so you’re cooking your meat to the correct temperature.

A little extra effort to check the temperature can go a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Why Does Ground Meat Need to Be Cooked More?

Alright, so here’s the deal with ground meat: it’s made up of lots of different pieces of meat that have been ground together, right? And when you grind up meat, you’re increasing the surface area that’s exposed to bacteria.

Which tells us why ground meat needs to be cooked to a higher internal temperature than other cuts of meat — we want to make sure all of that extra surface area gets heated up enough to kill off any harmful bacteria. As well as any bacteria that made their way to the inside of the mix or patty.


Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained chef with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.

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