Meat Fact Friday
Join us every Friday when we share an interesting and helpful fact about meat or meat processing and how that can effect your product!
Meat Fact Friday - Different Cooking Temperatures
Why do you need to cook a sausage or other ground product up to 160° for food safety but you can order or cook a steak to medium rare and not get sick? The answer lies in two parts.
First, only a very small amount of bacteria or other harmful microorganisms live inside the muscle of red meat. The vast majority of it will live on the outside of the meat where it has been exposed to the environment and contaminated. So, when we get the internal temp of the meat to 145, as the USDA recommends, we know the temperature of the outside of the meat is far higher than 160° and has killed off anything living on the surface.
When making sausage you grind up the meat and by doing so you introduce the bacteria that WAS just on the outside of the meat to all of the meat. Even though you are going to reform it into a product that has a clear outside and inside the damage has already been done. At that point we recommend you cook to 160° which is the point of instant lethality.
Best Cooking Practices for Sausage
Since we need to cook the sausage product to a higher internal temperature we need to be more careful with how we cook it to prevent the fat from rendering out of the meat and leaving you with a dry and crumbly product. We do this with a combination of Protein Extraction careful cooking/smoking schedules that start within 20° F of what the animal lived at and then increasing the temperature in stages. Doing this will prevent case hardening which is where the outside of your sausage either cooks or dries too quickly and it will not efficiently transfer heat to the center of the sausage. Click the link for more information on cooking Cured Sausagge.