Proper meat temperatures

Updated April 17, 2017

The main meats---beef, poultry, pork and fish---can be dangerous if they aren't properly cooked. Each meat has a different cooking standard based on how you're preparing it and what parts you're cooking, according to Each meat has a specific temperature window it needs to achieve before it's ready to eat. The best way to measure the temperature is with a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer, according to, will give you a precise idea of when your meat is done.


Select a cooking method and consider the cut, tenderness and thickness, according to Beef is one of the most diverse meats and the window of doneness is larger than the other meats. Use the meat thermometer to check if it's done. For a rare beef, cook to 48.8 to 51.6 degrees C; medium rare, cook to 54.4 to 57.2 degrees C; medium, cook to 60.0 to 62.7 degrees C; medium well, cook to 150 to 155; well done, cook to 160 or above, according to These temperatures reflect the hotness of the centre of the beef.


Chicken and turkey are the two most common poultry meats, and both must be cooked to the proper temperatures to avoid salmonella poisoning. Chicken and turkey----whether ground up into a casserole or salad, or sliced and served as the main course---must always be cooked to the same temperature. Chicken and turkey are done when they reach 73.9 degrees C. The meat thermometer is a great resource for deciding when it's done, and these temperatures reflect the centre of the chicken.


Pork has different levels of doneness to make it edible for humans. Pork can be prepared in the form of pork chops, ham, sausage, bacon and many more dishes. For medium pork chops with a pale pink centre, cook to 60.0 to 62.7 degrees C; for well-done pork chops that are brown throughout, cook to 71.1 degrees C; cook sausage to 71.1 degrees C or above; cook pork ribs and shoulders to 160 and above; cook ham to 71.1 degrees C. Make sure pork is does not fall below 140. These temperatures reflect the centre of the pork.


There are hundreds of ways to cook fish and hundreds of types of fish to cook these different ways, so the process is rather flexible. However, several main cooking types for fish exist and it helps to take note of these for future reference. For fish steaks of salmon or tilapia, cook to 60 degrees C until it flakes easily. For tuna, swordfish and marlin, cook to 51.7 degrees C

Other processes include shrimp and lobster, but cooking time is more important than temperature in this case. For shrimp, boil for three to eight minutes, and for lobster, cook nine to 15 minutes.

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About the Author

Mitchell Holt has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Abilene Christian University and has been freelancing since 2009 with work published in various newspapers and magazines like "BostonNOW" and "The Abilene Reporter-News." Holt also writes sales copy for small businesses. His clients include The Kyle David Group, ITNewton, 18 Vodka, RoboQuote and more.