A Science-based Approach to Calculating Safe Cooking Temperatures for Poultry Meat in New Zealand

This purpose of this study was to provide a scientifically-derived range of temperature/time combinations that achieve a reduction in Listeria Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry meat.

Year of Publication2009

Historical New Zealand guidelines for core cooking temperatures for whole poultry meat varied from 72°C to 82°C. For clarification, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority published an interim recommendation for core cooking temperatures at 82°C until a robust science-based time/temperature combination could be validated. As expected, both industry and consumers regarded this high temperature as excessive, resulting in poultry products of poor quality. Purpose: To provide a scientifically-derived range of temperature/time combinations that achieve a 6 log CFU/g thermal reduction of Listeria spp., Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. in poultry meat. Methods: A literature review was undertaken to locate relevant publications. Data from the literature were entered into a Microsoft® Access® database along with available contextual information affecting D-values: strain and origin of the pathogen, phase of growth, heating method, composition of the heating menstruum, etc. Only data from studies using poultry meat were included. Data displaying non-linear shoulder or tailing effects were excluded. Results: Over 300 relevant D-values for poultry meat were identified. Based on linear regression plots of D-time versus temperature, Listeria spp. were clearly the most heat resistant pathogen. Achieving a 6 log CFU/g reduction in Listeria populations would therefore result in greater reductions in Salmonella and Campylobacter numbers. D-values for Listeria spp. were adopted using the 95% percentile of the data at each temperature. Cooking recommendations ranged from achieving 60°C for 10 min to instantaneous destruction at 75°C. Significance: A comprehensive analysis of available data was able to offered science-based answers to a specific food safety question. The development of experimental protocols to directly address such questions and produce additional data points in order to understand the highly variable nature of the data would also be valuable.

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