Here are some of the numbers to keep in mind when you’re cooking food for your picnic or backyard gathering this summer.
• 40 to 140 degrees F: The temperature range, in Fahrenheit, that represents the “danger zone” in which bacteria can grow in perishable foods.
• 3 minutes: The minimum amount of time you should allow meat to rest after cooking and before carving or consuming.
Minimum internal cooking temperatures:
Fresh pork, ham, beef, pork, veal and lamb: 145 F, as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source.
Reheating precooked ham: 140 F.
Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck or goose, whole or pieces): 165 F.
Ground beef, pork, veal and lamb: 160 F.
Ground turkey or chicken: 165 F.
Egg dishes, such as frittata and quiche: 160 F.
Leftovers, casseroles: 165 F.
Fish: 145 F; fish should be opaque and separate easily with a fork.
Other seafood, such as scallops, lobster and crab: Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque.
Clams, oysters, mussels: Cook until shells open during cooking.
• 2 hours: Maximum amount of time you should leave perishable food out before refrigerating it, or putting it in a cooler with ice or ice packs, if the temperature outside is below 90 degrees.
• 1 hour: Maximum time you should leave perishable food out if the temperature outside is 90 degrees or above.
• 20 seconds: Minimum amount of time you should wash your hands, with soap and water as hot as you can stand, before handling food.
• 3 to 4 days: The amount of time leftovers can safely be kept in the refrigerator.
• 3 to 4 months: The amount of time frozen leftovers can stay in the freezer; after that time, they can start losing moisture and flavor.
Sources: Penn State Extension and the U.S. agriculture department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (foodsafety.gov).