Are safe temperatures for meat scientifically measured or empirical? For example 165°F/74°C for poultry. If they are scientifically measured, how are they determined?

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Are safe temperatures for meat scientifically measured or empirical? For example 165°F/74°C for poultry. If they are scientifically measured, how are they determined?

In: Biology

The temperature is based on when it can be assured that parasites or bacteria in the meat are dead: for instance, trichinella is a parasite that may be found in pork or salmonella bacteria found (primarily?) in chicken.

Meat becomes unsafe because of bacteria that may (or may not) live within it. Perfectly sterile meat would be safe to eat raw but that’s nearly impossible to get. So, scientists determine which bacteria can be encountered and measure how heat resistant they are.

As far as I know, 74°C is the recommended temperature to kill salmonella, so even if you got unlucky and your poultry contained it, after cooking it at this temperature you will be safe.

Scientifically measured and empirical are the same, ultimately. You take a piece or meat. You measure the bacterial content – mostly by cultivating them and count what is usually called cfus – colony forming units. You heat another part of it by x degrees and do it again. So you get a curve of how many bacteria survive at which temperature and you can deduce a safe threshold for it.

They’re empirical-ish, with a bit of leeway to account for measurement and human error. They’re based on the temperatures that will quickly kill the potential illness-causing bacteria or parasites that are typically present in each type of meat.