Why You Should Still Check The Temperature Of Air-Fried Meat

Air-fryers are everywhere. They've become such a ubiquitous kitchen appliance that having one is just as normal as owning a toaster; There are even whole cookbooks dedicated to air fryer cooking for specialized diets like vegan or keto (via Spruce Eats.) It seems like you can't open the Instagram explore page or TikTok without seeing at least one air-fryer recipe. 

One of the many draws of using an air fryer is how quickly it can cook certain items that usually take much longer using traditional cooking methods, not to mention how much less oil is needed to obtain that perfectly crisped exterior. Air fryers can get food extra brown and crispy because, unlike a regular oven, they generate heat and then quickly circulate the hot air around the food, which is positioned in a basket. According to Taste of Home, a powerful fan allows the air to get underneath the food, crisping the entire surface. Because of this, though, it can be hard to know precisely when things are done cooking and safe to eat.

Meat could be undercooked in the air fryer

Cooking meat can be tricky because there's a risk of serious food-borne illnesses from bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, Listeria, and E. coli, among others, according to Johns Hopkins. Technical Information Specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Lynn Williams, notes that food borne pathogens lead to an estimated 48 million cases of illness and 3,000 deaths per year. And making sure meat is cooked through can be challenging to asses using only visual cues. In fact, Williams dismisses the accuracy of outer appearance, telling Mashed, "Color is not a reliable indicator of safety or doneness. For example, safely cooked poultry can vary in color from white to pink to tan."

The only way to truly know if meat is cooked to a safe temperature for consumption is to use a meat thermometer. "Consumers should always use a food thermometer no matter what the cooking methods. When cooking, using a food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure safety of meat, poultry, and egg products," she shared. Williams went on to say that ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal should be cooked to 160 degrees while poultry needs to be cooked to at least 165 degrees and fish should be cooked to 145 degrees.

When cooking raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and, roasts they should be cooked to 145 degrees.