Consumer food thermometers go unused, new study indicates

Research Triangle Park, NC – Most consumers either do not own or do not use a food thermometer, which could lead to potential exposure to harmful bacteria during the cooking of poultry, according to a new study from Tennessee State and Kansas State universities and the independent research nonprofit RTI International.

Researchers found that less than two-thirds of consumers own a food thermometer, and less than 10 percent of those consumers actually use the thermometer to check whether poultry has been sufficiently cooked.

Raw poultry can contain Salmonella and Campylobacter, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends using food thermometers to ensure poultry is internally cooked to at least 165° F.

Other findings:

  • 89 percent of consumers do not thaw raw poultry in cold water correctly, which USDA says entails sealing poultry in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerging it into cold water that is changed every 30 minutes.
  • 70 percent of consumers rinse or wash raw poultry before cooking, which could splash bacteria onto other foods or kitchen surfaces.
  • Only 18 percent of consumers correctly stored raw poultry products in the refrigerator. USDA recommends storing raw poultry in a sealed container so raw juices do not contaminate other foods.

The study was published in the January issue of the Journal of Food Protection.