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USDA lowers guideline for safely cooked poultry

After years of holiday chefs and poultry lovers grousing that the federal government’s safe-cooking recommendations left their birds too dry, the USDA has lowered the internal temperature recommendation for turkey, chicken, duck and goose, reports the Seattle Times.

Cooking poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees throughout, including any stuffing, will eliminate pathogens and viruses, including salmonella and avian flu, according to the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The service based its previous recommendations — 180 degrees in the thigh, 170 degrees in the breast — on doneness, rather than food safety alone, said Tara Balsley, a spokeswoman with the service.

Once you get the whole turkey, ground chicken or fajita meat to at least 165 degrees, how much longer you cook it is a matter of palatability. "For personal preference, you may want to cook your poultry to a higher temperature," Balsley said.