Meat: At what temperature is meat safely cooked?

I recently got an e-mail from Linda asking how long to cook a turkey meatloaf. As I took a look at several of my meatloaf recipes, I was reminded that there are slight differences in the final safe temperature depending upon the meat used, and big differences in the cooking time depending upon the oven temperature and the size and shape of the loaf. The most important indicator for safely cooking meats is the internal temperature so it is essential that you use an oven-safe meat thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf throughout cooking or periodically check the temperature of the center of the loaf using an instant-read thermometer. If the meat is not thick enough for the thermometer to read accurately when inserted from the top, insert it horizontally from a side. How do you know what temperature to aim for? Here is a USDA chart that makes finding the minimum safe internal temperature for different meats easy.

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