Consumers are being advised on appropriate temperatures to which meat products should be cooked, and to use a meat thermometer to ensure these temperatures are reached.
However, consumers are more likely to assess cooking status by the color of the meat or juice. This can be a dangerous method to gauge internal tempurature of meats, since several factors can artificially prolong the pink “uncooked” color in meat:
- high pH
- modified atmosphere packaging
- rapid thawing
- low fat content
Alternatively, meat can prematurely brown, where the interior of the product looks cooked but a microbiologically safe temperature has not been reached, such as:
- pale, soft exudative meats
- meats packaged under oxygenated conditions
- meats frozen in bulk
- meats thawed over long periods
- meats that have had salts or lean finely textured beef added
The article concludes that the color of cooked meat is not a good indicator of adequate cooking, and the use of a food thermometer is recommended.