Red meat and temperature?

I have always known that for meat to be safe, it needs to be heated to 160 degrees F. My question is, can a steak stay red on the inside while reaching this temperature? The meat that i order “medium” at the steak house that is red in the middle… did that meat reach 160?

Hard to say, really. Most likely not, as 160º will usually make meat dark. Of course, “medium” can be pretty damn “done” at some places.

As an interesting aside, my dad was a butcher for 40 years and he always claimed that steak could be eaten damn near raw, as long as the outside was seared. His reasoning was that any contamination is on the outside of a steak. Hamburger, on the other hand, is ground up so contaminants can be anywhere. I’m not sure I completely agree with that, but it seems to have worked for him.

i’ve heard that theory many times. It seems reasonable. But i still wonder about that as well.

You can become infected with parasites, such as worms, by eating raw meat. But most of the beef and lamb we get is parasite free - drenched, full of antibiotics and not allowed to wander into the nasty natural environment.

With beef, your main worry is bacteria, which you don’t find internally in intact muscle - antibiotics or not - though as has been stated, ground beef has it all mixed in.

Pork, though, can have the parasite that causes trichinosis lodged inside intact muscle, so it should always be cooked thoroughly.

According to Alton Brown (I love “Good Eats”), trichinosis has been pretty much eradicated in the US, although it was a genuine concern many years ago. The main reason to thoroghly cook pork these days is that undercooked pork is pretty nasty.

No, and it didn’t need to, in order to be “safe”. Even the USDA, which is, to put it mildly, notoriously conservative, doesn’t recommend cooking steaks that long. 160 degrees is “shoe leather” on the Doneness scale, for red meat. 155 is Well Done. If your steak is red in the middle, it’s probably Rare or Medium-Rare; about 125 to 130 degrees in the middle. And, perfectly safe. (And, much yummier than a Well Done steak.)

jk1245’s dad was right. As long as the outside has reached 140 (or more) degrees, whatever bacteria may have been on it will have been killed. This is true for all “whole” cuts of red meat (steaks and roasts), but not for ground meat.

With ground meat, the outside is now partially on the inside, so any bacteria that were on the surface prior to grinding may now be inside. This is why most restaurants no longer serve burgers cooked to less than 140 degrees on the inside. That means Medium-Well. The USDA recommends 160 for burgers, but that’s “hockey puck” on the Doneness scale, and E. Coli, the most common contaminant in ground beef, is killed at about 135. (140 is just to give a safety margin. E. Coli is nasty!) That being said, I’ll also admit that I routinely eat a pinch of raw hamburger any time I’m preparing it (gotta feed the inner caveman, once in a while), with no negative side effects. But, I don’t recommend anyone else do so, and if you do, and get sick, it’s your own damn fault. [/end legal disclaimer]

Chicken needs to reach that 160 degree mark to be palatable and, to a lesser degree, safe.

Linus was right about pork, too. Trichinosis is no longer an issue, in this country. But, even if it were, it is killed at 137 degrees, which is way too rare to be palatable, with pork. Around 150 you still get some hint of pinkness, and a nice juicy chop or roast. At 160 it’s considered Well Done (or a football), and it is probably dry as a bone.

I should probably mention that the USDA’s recomendations are generally about 10 degrees higher than those I’ve quoted here. But, it should be remembered that the USDA is still living in the 50’s. The temperatures I quoted are the ones pretty universally given in modern cookbooks. I haven’t (intentionally) eaten a steak that was cooked to more than Medium-Rare in about 30 years, and I’ve never suffered for it. Quite the contrary.

THanks for the replies everyone, and davebear.

I’m not entirely sure that being singled out is a good sign, but you’re quite welcome. :slight_smile: (Especially since yours is the first nice response I’ve gotten from anyone on this board.)

Oh, yeah? Shut up!!!