Speaking of undercooked chicken, is this just corporate paranoia?

So the recent question I had about my chicken pot pie got me thinking. I recently picked up a Marie Callendar’s personal frozen fettucini alfredo with chicken dinner (yes, I know it’s hideously unhealthy - especially when one’s already eaten an equally unhealthy fast food “treat” for lunch - and yes, I’ve most likely cooked better alfredo myself thanks to the SDMB, but I used to eat the things a little more often in years past, and I felt a random nostalgia).

Reading the instructions startled me; it specifically says that you must cook it to 165 degrees “as measured by a food thermometer in several spots”!

This is something I’d never seen with any other frozen meal before. The chicken looked cooked to me when it was frozen (besides, I doubt they’d toss raw chicken in something whose default suggested cooking time is 7 minutes or so). The only explanation I can think of is that they want something to point to should someone get salmonella from the thing.

But is it really necessary? I know the chances are non-zero, but how good is it, really, especially given all the pre-cooked chicken in freezer sections across the country? Would it really give them absolute protection against lawsuits? And who the heck would use a food thermometer to check a frozen dinner to begin with?

The whole thing just seems ludicrous to me.

Seems unnecessary to me. I’ve cooked SCORES of chix TV dinners, NEVER saw that instruction.

The only time I’ve seen that instruction in a frozen entree was when the chicken was only partially cooked, on some Chicken Cordon Bleu.

I saw that same message last night on a frozen pizza box. I thought it was odd too.

It’s on my Healthy Choice frozen dinners, but not on the Lean Cuisines. I ignore it - who’s bringing a food thermometer into the lunch room at work? For what it’s worth, that warning is also present on the vegetarian meals, so it’s not just a chicken thing.

I don’t think it’s necessarily anything to do with chicken–I’ve seen the same instructions on the frozen potato soup concentrate at work. Granted, this soup was probably made in a plant that also does one or more of their various chicken soups, but still. It’s potatoes and bacon and cheese, ffs.

I tried a new Banquet frozen fruit tart last night, a microwavable single serving mini-pie. Cherry/berry flavor. It too had the “must be 165 degrees as measured in several spots with a food thermometer” caveat in the cooking directions.

I’m thinking we’re going to be seeing this warning rolling out on a lot of frozen food.

Those sorts of warnings usually arise because of previous lawsuits, or because of new government regulations for labeling. It protects both the consumer and the manufacturer.

Yeah, I have seen this on veggie “hamburgers” and “chicken” patties. I haven’t figured out a very effective way of measuing the internal temperature of a 1/4" thick patty.

The issue also happens with cooking turkey, if I cooked it to the specs on the label, it’d be awful…cooking to temp in the breast and thigh, I end up with a bird that’s cooked in less time, is fully cooked, and isn’t dried out.

The lawyers have to cook to the lowest common denominator with the weakest easy-bake oven.

But this just seems so unnecessary for health reasons on precooked and frozen foods, is it a safety issue or a hot food issue?

Or maybe it was just a lobbied and paid for addition by the Food Thermometer Industry. Bet they will see some money out of this and a spike in sales because of the anal Herd mentality this will breed.

Nah, 160 for X number of seconds is the rule of thumb that kills off most kinds of wee beasties. (left vague because I know the generalization, but not the specifics.)

I imagine they add it mostly to cover their butts…yes, everything is cooked, but if some bacteria or fungal spores got on it after it was cooked in the factory, or even after you unwrap it but before you cook it (maybe you thaw it first for some weird reason?) and then you only heat it to, say, 120 internally, it’s possible (technically) that not all the bacteria died and they may have multiplied before you consumed them and released their toxic by-products.

IIRC, Most bacteria is actually killed in your stomach from the acidity and lack of oxygen, but it’s the compounds they release as part of their metabalism before we eat the food that our digestive system can’t break down and makes us sick.

That’s why food inspection agencies have rules about how long hot/room temp/cold food can be held before service. If you keep it out of the “danger zone” temp, either above or below, you can keep it for many hours, going into days and weeks if it’s cold, and months if frozen. But if it’s in the danger zone (I don’t know the exact numbers off-hand, but it’s like 50-110 degrees or so,) then the bacteria can multiply CRAZY fast.

Again, though, on pre-cooked frozen foods that are most likely getting cooked right away after being taken out of the freezer, and eaten relatively quickly, it’s just a liability thing from the company. Not that it absolves them completly, of course, but from a legal perspective it’s certainly better to have that than not, right?

Try 40-145. And if you’re cooking most things, the recommendation is to cook to 165, higher if you’re reheating things.

Yup. Sounds like they lawyered-up the instructions.

It’s a liability issue, so that when somebody eats their Lean Cuisine (or whatever) and gets sick, they can’t argue that they were never told how to properly cook the meal.