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How to cook meat safely

Don't be intimidated by cooking meat - we've got all the information you need to know to be able to cook meat safely and still achieve delicious results. Find out how best to cook and store meat with these helpful tips.

  1. Don't wash meat

    We may have read in cookbooks or been told by our grandmother to wash poultry or meat before preparing it but in fact this is one of the worst things you can do. When you wash meat and poultry, water can splash onto surfaces spreading bacteria around your kitchen, including those that may cause food poisoning, yet 60% of us still do it.  

    Just small numbers of Campylobacter, and other food poisoning bacteria, such as Salmonella and E.coli O157, found in fresh poultry and other raw meat can cause serious infections.

    Don't wash meat
  2. Top tips to keep you and your family safe

    Store raw meat and poultry in sealed containers at the bottom of the fridge, to stop juices dripping onto other ready to eat foods.

    Wash surfaces before and after preparing food.

    It’s a good idea to use completely separate chopping boards for raw meat/poultry and other foods that are ready to eat such as cooked meats, bread and salad vegetables. 

    Also, use separate utensils for cutting and handling raw meat and poultry and after use, wash them thoroughly with hot water and washing up liquid or put them in the dishwasher. 

    Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw foods such as raw meat and unwashed vegetables.

    Dispose of raw poultry/meat packaging carefully and wash your hands afterwards.

  3. When is safe to cook “rare”?

    It is good to know that steaks can be cooked (and eaten!) rare as can whole cuts of beef, lamb and venison. This is because the germs that can cause food poisoning are only present on the outside of these cuts. So, as long as the outside is properly cooked, these germs will be killed. However, joints that are rolled or boned do need to be cooked through.

    It is recommended that you cook all meat through if you are pregnant however, this is because of a small risk of toxoplasmosis (see the NHS website What to eat and avoid in pregnancy).

    All cuts of poultry and game (including turkey, duck and goose), pork, liver and offal and any type of minced meat products where the mincing can spread germs throughout the meat (such as burgers and sausages) should always be cooked through to be prepared safely.  

    Helpfully, Tesco provides cooking guidelines on all of our raw meat products to guide you through how to cook meats safely, but here are a few practical food safety tips to help you check: -

    If you have frozen meat, unless the cooking guideline states otherwise, it should be completely defrosted before cooking. Defrost in the fridge overnight, or if you’re going to cook it straight away, you can defrost using the microwave. It’s best not to use running water to avoid spreading germs around.

    For beef, venison and lamb steaks and joints cooked rare, all parts of the outside of the meat should be seared.

    All other meat products should be cooked until piping hot throughout, with no pink colour in the centre. For roast chicken, you can also check that the juices run clear when the deepest part of the flesh is pierced with a skewer. If you have a temperature probe, check the centre of the meat has reached 70°C for at least 2 minutes (or 75°C for at least 30 seconds).

    When is safe to cook “rare”?