In the Kitchen: Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures

— By Kathy Savoie, Extension Educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

The topic of minimum internal temperatures is always discussed in the ServSafe Food Protection Manager courses and Cooking for Crowds workshops that I teach. This topic is just as important for preventing foodborne illness in your home kitchen. Let’s cover some of the basics.

  • Many bacteria can be killed by heat. Applying heat is one of the most effective methods to inactivate different types of pathogens that can cause foodborne illness.
  • A properly calibrated instant read thermometer is a tool to use to check food temperatures to help minimize risk of foodborne illness. Check out this video from Penn State Extension, for learning how to calibrate your thermometer.
  • The internal temperature of food refers to the temperature reading at the center of the thickest part of the food being cooked. The center portion of the food is the farthest from the exterior portion and takes the longest time for heat to reach. Remember to check the temperature in 2 – 3 places.
  • Why is rest time important? After food is removed from the heat source (e.g. grill, oven) allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, the temperature of the food continues to rise and evenly distributes the heat, which destroys harmful germs.
  • After checking the temperature, remember to clean the food thermometer with hot, soapy water.

So, wash your hands and get cooking! Here is a chart of the Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures from

Food Type Internal Temperature (°F/°C)
Beef, bison, veal, goat, and lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145°F (63°C)
Rest time: 3 minutes
Ground meat and sausage 160°F (71°C)
Chicken, turkey, and other poultry All: whole bird, breasts, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, sausage, and stuffing inside poultry 165°F (74°C)
Eggs Raw eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm
Egg dishes (such as frittata, quiche) 160°F (71°C)
Casseroles (containing meat and poultry) 165°F (74°C)
Ham Raw ham 145°F (63°C)
Rest time: 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 165°F (74°C)
Note: Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140°F (60°C)
Leftovers Any type 165°F (74°C)
Pork Steaks, roasts, chops 145°F (63°C)
Rest time: 3 minutes
Ground meat and sausage 160°F (71°C)
Rabbit and venison Wild or farm-raised 160°F (71°C)


Fish (whole or filet), such as salmon, tuna, tilapia, pollock, bass, cod, catfish, trout, etc. 145°F (63°C) or cook until
flesh is no longer translucent and separates easily with a fork
Shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Clams, oysters, mussels Cook until shells open during cooking