Recommended and Safe Meat Cooking Temperatures for Perfect Meat and Fish











For most people, getting the proper temperature is the most difficult part of cooking meat. Overcooking leads to dried out meat and disappointing results. And undercooking can cause foodborne illness.

The best way to ensure that you get perfect results is to buy a good thermometer. I  recommend buying an instant-read version for the most reliable results.

I have listed the USDA safe minimum internal temperature and the temperature that the Food Network recommends for beef, veal and lamb cooked for personal preference.

I recommend that you print out this chart, put it in a plastic sheet protector and keep it in your kitchen for reference.

Some of the digital thermometers I recommend are here:

Digital Meat Thermometer with Instant Read – Thin Stainless Steel Probe for Cooking and Grilling Food to Perfection

Category Food USDA SAFE Temperature (°F)  Food Network Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 Rare 125 3 minutes
  Medium Rare


3 minutes
  Medium 135-140
  Medium Well 145 3 minutes
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F and all others to 165 °F None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. 130-135 None
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Busy Executive’s Weight Loss Success Story

This busy executive contacted me saying that she was an active person who skied, hiked and ran but had struggled with her weight for most of her life. And although she is a vegan, she admitted to eating too many calories and wanted to get help with her nutrition as well as the strength training and accountability.

Did I mention she is busy? And I mean BUSY! She is a top executive with a major company and works 12 to 14 hour days at her highly demanding job.

Despite the lack of free time, she did her best over the first 6 to 8 months of us working together to discover what nutrition strategies and regular workout schedule worked best for her. At about that point, that’s when she started making major progress with her weight and body fat reduction. She was able to find habits and strategies that worked for her.

Its been impressive to watch her attention and dedication to her nutrition plan. I can recall large family parties, vacations, company dinners and lavish restaurant dinners where she said no to the luscious, high-calorie foods available to her and stuck with her eating plan. She was ultra motivated and nothing was going to take her off course.

She has been just as dedicated to her workouts. She runs several times a week, hikes or skiis on weekends, lifts weights with me twice a week, attends a boot camp one evening and a Pilates yet another. Some nights she doesn’t get home until 9 pm from her workouts.

She tells me she would like to lose another 15 pounds and I know she will. I also am confident that she will then be able to maintain her weight loss because of the healthy lifestyle habits she has incorporated. And if you are struggling with your weight, let her be an inspiration to you.

Date 5-6-14 5-3-16 Progress  
Height 5’3
Weight 197.6 143.6 -54
Neck 13.25 12 -1.25
Arm 14.75 11.75 -3
Forearm 10 8.75 -1.25
Wrist 7 5.75 -1.25
Waist 39.25 29.5 -9.75
Abdomen 37.5 31.25 -6.25
Hips 47.75 39.25 -8.5
Thigh 28 23.5 -4.5
Calf 16.5 14.75 -1.75
Body Fat 42.2% 32.3% -9.9%
Pushups 15 30 +15
54 pounds             
37.5 inches             
9.9% body fat            
Doubled upper body strength
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How to Evaluate the Data from your Online Food Journal

A study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research  followed more than 2,000 dieters for six months and encouraged healthy eating and regular exercise. The results: they found that the single best indicator for dropping weight came down to keeping a food journal.

Two-thirds of all participants who adopted a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and participated in regular exercise, dropped nine pounds or more. But those who kept a daily food diary lost 11 more pounds than those who didn’t.

In order to improve your habits and reach the weight you want, it’s important to take a good, hard look at your eating patterns.

Writing everything down will help you make smarter food choices and provides a more accurate picture of your daily caloric consumption. Researchers have found that Americans typically underestimate their food intake by about 25 percent while overestimating their daily physical activity levels.

You need to track exercise as well because exercise is as important to weight loss as a healthy diet. Research has shown that people who exercise most days of the week can reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers.

How to evaluate the data to improve your diet

As I dietitian, when I am evaluating a client’s food journal, these are some of the factor’s I look at:

Calories. Did you have an intake at or below your goal?

Carbs. 50% of your calories should come from “healthy” carbs. Whole grain, fiber-containing, unprocessed.

Protein. 25% of your calories should come from lean protein.

Fat. 25% of your calories should come from “healthy” fats.

Was the fat contributed by healthy omega 3 fat found in soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed, fish: trout, herring, and salmon? Omega-3s boost heart health, help rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Was the fat contributed by saturated fat found in high-fat cheeses, high-fat cuts of meat, whole-fat milk and cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, palm and coconut oils? Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to chronic disease, specifically, coronary heart disease.

Was the fat contributed by trans-fat from any product that contains partially hydrogenated oil, fried items, savory snacks (like microwave popcorn and chips), frozen pizzas, cake, cookies, pie, margarines and spreads, ready-to-use frosting, and coffee creamers?  

Cholesterol. 300 mg is the most you should have per day. Cholesterol is found in animal products: egg yolks, beef, poultry, lamb, pork, organ meats, fish and dairy products. Keep in mind that trans fat and saturated fat have a bigger effect on a person’s blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol.

Sodium. 2400 mg or less is the goal.

Sugars. 40 grams or less. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 100 and 150 calories daily for women and men. (12 ounces of regular soda supplies 35 grams; one teaspoon of table sugar contains 4 grams).

Fiber. Goal is 35 grams per day.

Did you get soluble fiber? Soluble fiber attracts water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

Sources of soluble fiber: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, chia, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, cranberries, grapes, peaches, plums and prunes.

Did you get insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibers pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables.

Sources of insoluble fiber: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, corn, fruit, and root vegetable skins.

Did you eat beans? 3-4 times per week use beans instead of meat, add them to salads, soups or use as a side dish.

Did you get at least 2 servings of dairy? Intake of dairy products is linked to improved bone health, reduced risk of osteoporosis, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and with lower blood pressure in adults. It also is a source of protein. For milk, 1 cup of fluid milk; For yogurt, 8 ounces; 2 cups of cottage cheese or half a cup of ricotta cheese; 2 ounces of processed cheese such as an American cheese slice, 1/3 cup of shredded cheese or 1 ½  ozs. of hard cheese such as cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Parmesan.

Was there a lot of “volume”? Choosing foods that are high in water and fiber and low in density allows dieters to enjoy larger, more satisfying portions, and to lose weight without feeling hungry. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and cooked grains are examples of low-energy-density foods that give you plenty of water and fiber for very few calories.

Did you get 3 servings of whole grains? Do so and enjoy reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, inflammatory disease, colorectal cancer, gum disease, better weight maintenance, and healthier blood pressure.

Women 19-50 years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalents
51+ years old 5 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalents
Men 19-30 years old 8 ounce equivalents 4 ounce equivalents
31-50 years old 7 ounce equivalents 3 ½ ounce equivalents
51+ years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalents

Did you eat at least 2 cups of vegetables?

Women 19-50 years old 2½ cups
51+ years old 2 cups
Men 19-50 years old 3 cups
51+ years old 2½ cups

Vegetable subgroup recommendations are given as amounts to eat WEEKLY. Over a week, try to consume the amounts listed from each subgroup as a way to reach your daily intake recommendation.

Dark green vegetables

Red and orange vegetables

Beans and peas

Starchy vegetables

Other vegetables


Women 19–50 yrs 1½ cups 5½ cups 1½ cups 5 cups 4 cups
51+ yrs old 1½ cups 4 cups 1 cup 4 cups 3½ cups
Men 19–50 yrs 2 cups 6 cups 2 cups 6 cups 5 cups
51+ yrs 1½ cups 5½ cups 1½ cups 5 cups 4 cups

*Red or orange peppers, carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste and sauce, red potatoes, beets, radicchio, sweet potatoes, winter squash and pumpkin.

*Green: artichokes, arugula, asparagus, broccoflower, broccoli, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, endive, green cabbage, green peppers, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, peas, snows peas, spinach, sugar snap peas, watercress.

Did you eat at least 1.5 cups fruit?

Women 19-30 years old 2 cups
31-51 years old 1 ½ cups
Men 19-51+ years old 2 cups

How many ounces of protein did you eat?

Women 19-30 years old 5 ½ ounce equivalents
31-51+ years old 5 ounce equivalents
Men 19-30 years old 6 ½ ounce equivalents
31-50 years old 6 ounce equivalents
51+ years old 5 ½ ounce equivalents


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