When grilling beef at home, is it safe to say that beef is done when it’s brown all the way through or feels warm to the touch? Color and touch are not accurate ways to determine the doneness of a steak, roast or hamburger.

Myth: My hamburger or steak is done when it’s brown in the middle or warm to the touch.

The Facts: Internal temperature is the only way to tell when your hamburger, steak or other beef products are properly cooked.

Color and juices are not an accurate way to determine the doneness of beef. Color can change for a variety of reasons including oxygen exposure, preparation method or added seasonings.

Similarly, feeling how warm your steak is on the outside or by cutting into the inside to look at the juices is not an accurate way to determine doneness. Utilizing an instant read meat thermometer is the only way to know that the beef you’re preparing has reached the safe internal temperature.

What are proper internal temperatures for cuts of beef?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends grilling beef to the following temperatures to ensure a safe and enjoyable beef eating experience:

Ground beef/hamburger –160°F

Steaks – 145°F (medium rare)

Roasts – 145°F (medium rare)

Degree of Doneness

For more tips on how to cook to specific degree of doneness, check out Confident Cooking with Beef.

Always use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – meat thermometers can be purchased at all grocery stores. Be sure to clean and sanitize your meat thermometer between uses.

Are there any other safe food preparation tips I should follow?

Preparing beef for cooking is just as important as cooking and grilling it. When preparing your meal, be sure to use different cutting boards and knives for meat and produce and wash them with hot soapy water between uses. An easy way to remember food safety guidelines is to Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. This process ensures a safe eating experience for you and your family. After your meal is over, refrigerate leftovers in order to enjoy safe beef for lunch the next day!

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