At Smart Lunches, we occasionally get feedback about pinkish-tinged chicken. While we never want our lunches to be unappealing, parents can rest assured that our hot lunches are always fully cooked. Every Smart Lunch is temped with an instant read thermometer at 165 degrees or higher before it’s packed for delivery, and then again when it’s dropped off at a school.
Safety is the most important part of any kitchen, whether it’s in a restaurant, a catering kitchen, or at home.
To be certain of safety, we recommend that you always use a food thermometer, especially when cooking chicken. Don’t trust your eyes, because appearances, as it turns out, can be misleading. For instance, a pinkish tinge in chicken doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s undercooked. According to the USDA, fully-cooked chicken can hold a pinkish hue due to the age of the chicken when slaughtered, or due to the presence of certain proteins in the meat.
Myoglobin is the protein that is responsible for the majority of the red color that’s occasionally found in fully-cooked chicken. Myoglobin doesn’t circulate in the blood but is fixed in the tissue cells and is purplish in color. When it is mixed with oxygen, it becomes oxymyoglobin, and produces a bright red color. Because these proteins are found in the chicken’s tissues, a hint of the color will often remain after cooking.
On the other hand, white meat with no pink doesn’t always mean that your chicken is cooked, either. The only fail-safe method of ensuring chicken is properly cooked is to make sure it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Smart Lunches maintains strict adherence to this temperature standard with every bit of chicken that leaves our caterers’ kitchens.
Do you ever worry about undercooking your chicken or poultry? Let us know in the comments.