Cook - The Basics

Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
woman cooking


Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that causes food poisoning. While many think they can tell when food is "done" simply by checking its color and texture, there's no way to be sure it's safe without following a few important but simple steps.

  • Use a food thermometer. Food thermometers are extremely important as they are the only way to ensure food is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.
  • Bacteria multiply quickest when in the "danger zone," between 40°F to 140°F, so keep food out of this range. Keep food hot after cooking, so it doesn't fall below 140°F. Use a heat source such as a chafing dish, warming tray or slow cooker to keep food from cooling.
  • Reheat leftovers thoroughly to at least 165°F.

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