A BBQ or meat thermometer does not cost very much, but it can save you quite a bit in medical bills when you compare it to the cost of eating under cooked food giving you salmonella, E. coli, and other parasites or illnesses.
The US center for disease control (CDC) estimated that roughly 1 in 6 Americans got sick due to some form of a food born illness. Close to 130,000 people were hospitalized and 3000 died, and among these people, many were children. The USDA and consumer reports show that by using a good digital thermometer and handling food properly, you can reduce these risks down to zero.
A true stomach flu is a viral infection that is caused by different viruses than the regular flu virus and it occurs less frequently. If you think you have had the stomach flu (fever, sweats, and diarrhea) chances are that you actually had a food born illness of some sort. This could have been prevented by proper cooking and caused you a lot less problems.
When cooking, a thermometer is as important as having a knife or a fork. You always want your food to be safe, along with being tender, juicy, and flavorful. The temperature of the cooker and the internal temperature of the food is what controls these things. Understanding the perfect and safe temperatures of different foods is the basis of becoming a great cook.
Most grills and smokers come with a bi-metal dial thermometer, however, these can usually not be trusted. When using a good digital meat thermometer, you can see that these bi-metal thermometers are often off by 50 degrees or even more.
Even a handheld bi-metal thermometer can take up to 30 seconds or longer to give you an accurate temperature, where a good digital thermometer can give you an accurate reading in as little as 1-6 seconds. Without the use of a digital thermometer, you will often find yourself having overcooked and dry meat, undercooked meat, or the worst outcome and some one in the hospital due to a food borne illness.
Telling when your meat is done
A lot of cookbooks over the years will tell you that you can tell when chicken or turkey is done by the juices running clear. Now, this may have been true in the past, but that is not that case anymore. Modern chickens are grown very rapidly, and this causes the ends of their bones to not calcify thoroughly.
This can cause blood from the marrow to seep out and tint the nearby meat a pinkish red color even if the meat is cooked well past a safe temperature. It is also said that you can cut into the meat and check the color to be able to determine its doneness, but you can not tell by looking at the color of the meat.
The problem here is that the color you see while it is cooking on the grill will not be the same color once you bring it to the table. This is caused because the color in the cut changes as the meat absorbs oxygen.
It’s pretty obvious if you take the time to think about it, a BBQ accurate thermometer, or another meat thermometer, is the best way to cook. It is bad enough when you could a good steak and it ends up turning out overcooked and dry and no one wants to eat it, but it is even worse to have undercooked food and end up making someone in your family sick or in the hospital over something that could have been easily prevented.
A good digital thermometer is the best way to determine whether your food has been cooked to the correct temperature, and it helps knowing that everything is cooked perfect, tastes amazing, and best of all, is safe.