(Updated with latest USDA info on pork)
Ask any chef to pick their favorite tool in the kitchen and there’s a good chance he or she will lovingly look toward their biggest knife. But that favorite kitchen tool and the most important one are probably quite different.
That’s because the most important tool in the kitchen, at least when it comes to your health and safety, is one that many folks don’t even have: a cooking thermometer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tens of millions of Americans become ill due to foodborne pathogens every year. And we’re not just talking about an upset stomach here; thousands of people die each year from them, the CDC says.
If you routinely make food for an elderly person, a child or a person with a weakened immune system, it’s even more vital to be sure your foods are as safe as possible for consumption.
Two of the biggest factors contributing to foodborne illnesses are cross-contamination and not cooking meats, poultry and fish to a safe temperature.
The first can be controlled by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing work surfaces and tools that have touched raw meat, poultry and fish. The second is where the thermometer comes in.