How To Know When Chicken Is Cooked

Checking the colour isn't the best way.

We've all been there -- you cook your tasty chicken dish, sit down to enjoy it and cut into a still-pink piece of chook. Back to the fry pan, it goes.

Not only is undercooked or raw chicken unappetising, but it can also lead to food poisoning -- not something anyone wants from a simple stir fry.

When it comes to checking whether chicken is cooked, most of us go by this rule: cut the chicken and check it's not still pink. But this isn't the best (or most convenient) method to go by.

What happens if you eat raw chicken

"The main risks with raw chicken, or not properly cooked chicken, would be that you could potentially get food poisoning," Rachelle Williams, Chair of the Food Safety Information Council, told HuffPost Australia.

"Why? Because the food poisoning bacteria that chicken and other potentially hazardous foods contains haven't been eliminated through cooking.

"Poultry is particularly attractive to salmonella and campylobacter species, but any sort of food poisoning bacteria or pathogens could potentially be in poultry and other potentially hazardous foods."

How to know when chicken is cooked

There are a few ways to check whether chicken is cooked or not, but there's one method which reigns supreme.

1. Use a meat thermometer

"The best way of checking (literally the best way of checking) is to get a meat thermometer and put it into the chicken," Williams said.

The sweet (and safe) spot for cooking chicken is 75 degrees Celsius and above.

"If you're cooking a whole bird, the best place to be checking the temperature is not where most people would -- which is right into the breast at the top.

"You should actually take the thermometer and push it right into the thigh, under the big thigh bone -- where the drumstick and thigh meet. If that place has reached a minimum of 75 degrees Celsius, you are good to go."

Remember: 75 and up.
Remember: 75 and up.

2. Check the juices run clear

"Our recommendation at the council is always use a meat thermometer, but another easy way to confirm if it's cooked is, if you pierce the meat and the liquid comes out and it's clear, you've got a pretty good chance it's cooked," Williams said.

3. Check the colour

Another way of seeing whether chicken is cooked is to check if the meat has become white all the way through. But cut-up chicken isn't always ideal -- for instance, when you're cooking for a dinner party or making a roast.

There's also an exception to this colour rule: some cuts of chicken can still be pink at the bone, even if it's safely cooked.

"What a lot of people probably don't realise, and this isn't a food safety issue per se, is if the blood which runs through blood vessels (which run against the bone) reaches around 85 degrees, the blood changes from a pinky-red colour to a grey-brown," Williams explained.

"From a quality point of view, if the chicken hasn't reached 82-85 degrees, then it's going to look like it's not cooked as it's going to be a little bit pink on the bone. The meat is safe, as long as it's reached 75 degrees, but you need to get to 85 degrees to cook the blood on the bone."

4. Make sure you're cooking it for long enough

To really make sure the chicken is safety cooked, Williams recommends holding the temperature at 75 degrees Celsius for a certain period of time.

"The higher the temperature, the less time you need to be able to kill the bacteria," Williams said.

"A good example is this: if you put us in a room at 30 degrees, we can be in that room for ages. Put us in the room at 55 degrees, we're not going to be able to stay there very long. But put us in a room at 75 degrees and we're pretty much going to be dead.

"This is something I go by, it's not a principle or standard practice, but my belief is that if you take the meat to 75 degrees and hold it there for five minutes, you're going to be well and truly making sure everything is quite safe."

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