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How to Kill E. Coli and Other Bacteria when Cooking Meat

Man Cooking barbecue at the Festival of American Folklife: Washington, D.C.

Image description: Cooking barbecue at the Festival of American Folklife: Washington, D.C. Photo from State Library and Archives of Florida on Flickr.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released new recommended cooking temperatures for meats. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your meat is free of harmful bacteria such as E. coli:

  • Cooking Whole Cuts of Pork: USDA has lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 ºF to 145 ºF with the addition of a three-minute rest time. Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality—juicy and tender.
  • Cooking Whole Cuts of Other Meats: For beef, veal, and lamb cuts, the safe temperature remains unchanged at 145 ºF, but the department has added a three-minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations.

Learn more about the recommendations and find tips on how to use a meat thermometer on’s blog.

Grilling Safety Tips

Before you fire up your grill or head to a picnic this weekend, check out these food safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Thaw Safely

Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. For quicker thawing, you can defrost frozen food in the microwave if it will be placed immediately on the grill.


When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40°F or below. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.


Precooking food partially in the microwave, oven, or stove is a good way of reducing grilling time. Just make sure that the food goes immediately on the preheated grill to complete cooking.

Get more tips on grilling and food safety.