Is It Done Yet?

You can't tell by looking. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
Photo: Cooking Thermometer.

"Is it done yet?" This national campaign encourages use of food thermometers when preparing meat, poultry and egg dishes to prevent foodborne illness. Studies show that using a food thermometer is the only way to tell if harmful bacteria have been destroyed. Research found that even if hamburgers look fully cooked, 1 in 4 hamburgers may not be safely cooked. Yet only 6 percent of home cooks use a food thermometer for hamburgers and only 10 percent use a food thermometer for chicken breasts, according a government survey.

Food safety experts recommend using a dial or digital food thermometer to check if meat, poultry, or egg dishes are done. You will also prevent overcooking. Food cooked to a safe internal temperature is juicy and flavorful.

Temperature Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its recommendations for safely cooking steaks, roasts, and chops, including pork, in May 2011. USDA recommends cooking all whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb or goat meat to 145° F as measured by food thermometer, followed by 3 minutes of rest before carving or eating. During the rest time, the temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which further destroys any harmful germs that may be present.

The chart below tells the internal temperature for different foods:

  • Insert the food thermometer into the thickest part of the food, making sure it doesn't touch bone, fat, or gristle.
  • Clean your food thermometer with hot, soapy water before and after each use.

Cooking Recommendations

Food Temperature
Whole Beef, Pork, Lamb & Goat (steaks, chops & roasts) 145° F followed by a 3 minute "rest"
Ground Pork, Beef, Lamb & Goat 160° F
Whole & Ground Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck) 165° F
Eggs Until yolk & white are firm
Egg dishes 165° F
Finfish 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

For more information visit:

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences