Cooking Meat Safely

Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. CDC estimates C. perfringens causes nearly 1 million cases of foodborne illness each year. Find out more about this germ and steps you can take to prevent illness.
What is C. perfringens?

C. perfringens bacteria can be found on raw meat and poultry, in the intestines of animals and humans, and in the environment. Some strains produce a toxin that causes diarrhea.
What are common food sources of C. perfringens?

Meat and poultry are common sources of C. perfringens infections. C. perfringens infection can result when certain foods, such as large roasts or big pots of stew, are not kept at proper holding temperatures before serving. Outbreaks tend to happen in places that serve large groups, such as hospitals, school cafeterias, prisons, and nursing homes, or at events with catered food.
Who is at risk of C. perfringens food poisoning?

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Anyone can get food poisoning from C. perfringens.
What are the symptoms of C. perfringens food poisoning?

People with C. perfringens food poisoning develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours (typically 8 to 12). The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours. Dehydration may occur. This infection does not cause fever or vomiting and is not passed from one person to another.
How can C. perfringens food poisoning be prevented?
Cook and keep food at the correct temperature

Food, especially roasts of beef or poultry, should be cooked to a safe temperature, and then kept at 140°F (60°C) or warmer or 40°F (4.4°C) or cooler. These temperatures prevent the growth of bacteria that might have survived cooking. Meat dishes should be served hot, within 2 hours after cooking.
Refrigerate leftovers and reheat them properly

Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40°F or colder as soon as possible and no more than 2 hours after preparation. It is okay to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator. Large pots of food, such as soups, stews, and large cuts of meats, such as roasts, should be divided into small quantities for refrigeration so they will cool quickly enough to prevent bacteria from growing. Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F (74°C) before serving.
When in doubt, throw it out!!

Foods that have dangerous bacteria in them may not taste, smell, or look different. Any food that has been left out too long may be dangerous to eat, even if it looks okay.

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.

ThermoPro Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Food Meat Thermometer with Dual Probe

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.

CategoryFoodTemperature (°F) Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat MixturesBeef, Pork, Veal, Lamb160None
Turkey, Chicken165None
Fresh Beef, Veal, LambSteaks, roasts, chops1453 minutes
PoultryChicken & Turkey, whole165None
Poultry breasts, roasts165None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings165None
Duck & Goose165None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)165None
Pork and HamFresh pork1453 minutes
Fresh ham (raw)1453 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat)140None
Eggs & Egg DishesEggsCook until yolk and white are firmNone
Egg dishes160None
Leftovers & CasserolesLeftovers165None
SeafoodFin Fish145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabsCook until flesh is pearly and opaque.None
Clams, oysters, and musselsCook until shells open during cooking.None
ScallopsCook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.None