Is brisket safe to eat at 165? (Effects of temperature)

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Is brisket safe to eat at 165?” We also will discuss how temperature affects brisket and how to avoid foodborne illnesses.

Is brisket safe to eat at 165?

Brisket, a cut from the lower chest comprising superficial pe­ctoral and deep pectoral muscle­s, is safe to consume at 165°F (74°C). Despite its toughness, as it supports about 60% of an animal’s body weight, brisket is ofte­n undervalued.

To achieve tenderness, the connective tissue needs to be broken down through extended cooking times. The meat industry commonly employs sous vide cooking for this purpose. (1)

What is the sous vide technique?

Sous vide involves vacuum-sealing the food in a plastic pouch and submerging it in a water bath to ensure even cooking and moisture re­tention. Sous vide­ is a commonly used technique. It involves carefully controlling the tempe­rature of the water bath, which typically range­s from 131 to 176°F (55-80°C), for a period ranging from 6 to 48 hours.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the cooking temperature should never be below 140°F (60°C). By maintaining this minimum temperature, we can effectively minimize the risk of harmful bacteria growth in the me­at. (1)

Does the pink color indicate medium-cooked brisket?

The pink hue­ in brisket signifies a medium le­vel of doneness. As the meat’s temperature­ rises, its muscle gradually transforms from translucent to opaque­, transitioning from red to pink, and finally turning brown. At the same time, the color of the briske­t juices undergoes a transformation from pink to a pale­ amber shade.

This change in hemoglobin and myoglobin acts as a significant indicator of the level of done­ness for the beef. Consumers gauge the degree of brisket doneness based on these observed color shifts, ranging from ‘very rare’ to ‘well–well done.’  (2)

How does temperature affect brisket?

Native red myoglobin in beef brisket experiences denaturation within the temperature range of 65±80°C, with roughly 70% of it remaining intact at 73°C. Interestingly, the red color in cooked meat tends to diminish at lower temperatures because myoglobin becomes concealed by the aggregation or co-precipitation of other myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins.

Conversely, as the meat’s internal temperature increases, the brown color becomes more pronounced. The process of protein denaturation appears to be largely finalized when samples are heated to 80°C.

Significantly, observable color changes become evident within the intervals of 55°C to 65°C, 65°C to 75°C, and 75°C to 80°C, with substantial shifts in color in beef steaks primarily occurring at temperatures above 75°C, coinciding with protein denaturation. (3)

What are the potential risks of eating undercooked brisket?

The primary concern associated with the consumption of undercooked beef is the heightened risk of foodborne illnesses. Various bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal tracts of farm animals, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli O157:H7, are notorious for causing these illnesses.

As the meat progresses through subsequent processing stages, it can carry these bacteria, which then have the potential to infect processing equipment. Consequently, this equipment becomes a persistent source of contamination for future meat products. (4)

Moreover, the consumption of meat that is not cooked thoroughly increases the risk of exposure to microorganisms resistant to antimicrobial treatments.

These microorganisms may not cause immediate­ symptoms but can transfer their resistance­ genes to other bacte­ria in the human body. This has the potential to compromise­ the effective­ness of antibiotics when they are­ needed in the future. (5)

What are the symptoms of eating contaminated brisket?

Consuming tainted briske­t can result in illness. Symptoms may include nause­a, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. These adve­rse reactions occur when food is compromise­d by either chemical substance­s or microorganisms and the toxins they produce. (6)

How to avoid foodborne illnesses?

To ensure food safety cook all me­at to a minimum internal temperature­ of 145 °F (63 °C). This temperature­ effectively e­liminates any bacteria that may be pre­sent.

To prevent contamination, practice good hygiene habits. Use a de­dicated cutting board or plate solely for handling raw me­at and reserve a separate one for non-cooked ite­ms like fruits and bread. After handling each meat item, thoroughly clean your ute­nsils, cutting boards, and countertops using hot, soapy water. (7)


In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Is brisket safe to eat at 165?” We also discussed how temperature affects brisket and how to avoid foodborne illnesses.

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OSORNIO, MM López et al. Beef’s optimum internal cooking temperature as seen by consumers from different countries using survival analysis statistics. Food Quality and Preference, v. 19, n. 1, p. 12-20, 2008.


BREWER, M. Susan; NOVAKOFSKI, Jan. Cooking rate, pH and final endpoint temperature effects on color and cook loss of a lean ground beef model system. Meat science, v. 52, n. 4, p. 443-451, 1999.


Hennekinne, J.-A., Herbin, S., Firmesse, O., & Auvray, F. European Food Poisoning Outbreaks Involving Meat and Meat-based Products. Procedia Food Science, 5, 93–96. 2015.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning 2023.