Meat and poultry (2024)

Meat and poultry are great sources of protein. They also provide lots of other nutrients your body needs, like iodine, iron, zinc, vitamins (especially B12) and essential fatty acids.

So it’s a good idea to eat meat and poultry every week as part of your balanced diet. But it’s best to stick with unprocessed, lean cuts and to eat the recommended serving size, to avoid taking in too much salt and saturated fat.

Why meat and poultry are so good for you

Meat and poultry are very good sources of protein, which is important for growth and development. But did you know they are also full of other things that you need to be healthy? For example:

  • iodine to help your body produce thyroid hormone
  • iron to carry oxygen around your body
  • zinc to keep your immune system strong, your skin healthy, and for growth, development and reproductive health
  • vitamin B12 for your nervous system
  • omega 3 to support heart and brain health.

Getting the right amount of meat and poultry

Advice about how much meat to eat can be confusing – eat enough, but don’t eat too much. But how much meat and poultry is enough, and how much is too much?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that you eat 1–3 serves of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes or beans every day. During pregnancy, 3-4 serves are recommended. And to make sure you get enough iron and zinc, around half these serves should be lean red meat.

A standard serve of meat or poultry is:

  • 65 grams cooked lean red meat such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (around 90–100 grams raw)
  • 80 grams cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (around 100 grams raw).

But moderation is the key with red meat. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend up to 455g cooked lean meat per week, and limiting processed meats (such as ham and bacon) to avoid some of the health risks associated with eating these foods. Many Australian men eat too much red meat and, conversely, Australian women and children tend not to eat enough.

Healthy ways to cook meat and poultry

There are so many tasty ways to cook meat and poultry. Check out these tips:

  • Choose a lean cut of meat or poultry. A trimmed pork chop, a lean rump steak or a chicken breast without skin or crumbs on the outside are a great place to start.
  • Grill your meat, rather than frying it. And don’t add extra oil when you are cooking.
  • Use a low-fat marinade to give your meat and poultry a great flavour. Marinades also tenderise your meat and keep it moist during cooking.
  • When you are roasting meat or poultry, sit it on a metal rack above the roasting pan so the fat drips off.
  • And when you are slow cooking stews, curries and casseroles, try putting less meat or poultry in and adding more vegetables and pulses.

Cooking meat and poultry safely

Cooking your meat and poultry properly kills any bacteria. And this helps protect you and your family from food poisoning.

Safe cooking practices depend on the type of meat or poultry. Some meat and poultry must be cooked all the way through (that is, until the juices run clear and there is no pink or red meat on the inside when you cut it). Cook the following meat and poultry all the way through:

  • poultry and game, including chicken, turkey, duck and goose
  • pork
  • offal (including liver)
  • rissoles and sausages
  • kebabs
  • rolled joints of meat.

Generally you can eat whole cuts of beef or lamb when they are still pink or rare in the middle (as long as they are cooked on the outside). These include:

  • steaks
  • cutlets
  • roasting cuts.

However, if you are at a greater risk of the more serious effects of toxoplasmosis (for example, you are pregnant or immunocompromised) you should ensure your meat is cooked thoroughly to reduce that risk.

It can be hard to know how long to cook meat and poultry – it varies depending on the size of the cut, the quality of the meat, and how you like it served (if it’s red meat). So rather than concentrate on cooking time, you could monitor temperature. The safe temperatures for different types of meat and poultry are listed below:

Meat type

Safe temperatures



Minced meat, sausages


Beef, veal, lamb, pork

medium rare:


well done:

63ºC – allow at least 3 minutes for the meat to rest




fresh (raw):

pre-cooked (to reheat):



Chicken & turkey

whole, thighs, wings, legs, breasts:




A good food thermometer is a worthwhile investment. They are not expensive (usually around $15 and available from most homewares stores) and you will know the exact temperature inside your meat and poultry.

The best ways to store your meat and poultry

Storing your meat and poultry safely also helps stop bacteria spreading, reducing the risk of food poisoning. Tips for refrigerating meat and poultry safely include:

  • Store unwrapped fresh raw meat in clean containers in the coldest part of your fridge (at 0–3 ºC). If the container is ventilated to allow air circulation, you can keep it for up to 5 days (the surface of the meat will dry out a little, but this stops the growth of micro-organisms).
  • You can leave meat and poultry wrapped in its original packaging (for example, a plastic bag from the butcher or a sealed package from the supermarket), but this keeps moisture trapped, which enables bacteria to grow. Meat or poultry refrigerated in its shop packaging should be used within 3 days.
  • Store raw minced meat in the coldest part of the fridge and use within 3 days.
  • Don’t eat meat after the use-by date.
  • Cool any leftover cooked meat or poultry as quickly as you can (less than one hour), and then put it in your fridge for later.

Freezing meat and poultry is a great way to stay organised. Here are some tips for freezing your meat safely:

  • Freeze your meat and poultry before the best before or use by date. The best idea is to put your meat and poultry in the freezer as soon as you get home from shopping. (Over time, the air in the freezer can permeate the plastic, ‘burning’ the meat or poultry. Meat with freezer burn is still safe to eat, but the freezer burn can affect the taste.)
  • If you defrost the meat or poultry in the microwave, cook it straight away. If you want to cook it later, thaw it in the fridge to make sure it doesn't get too warm.
  • When defrosting meat or poultry in the fridge, do it in a sealed container. This keeps any juices (which may contain bacteria) away from other foods in your fridge.
  • And remember, if you defrost meat and then cook it, you can freeze it again. But don’t reheat meat or poultry more than once. This increases the risk of food poisoning.

Producing meat and poultry uses a lot of energy, water and chemicals (especially compared with fruit, vegetables and grains). Did you know a 150 gram serve of meat can take over 200 litres of water to produce and create 5 kilograms of greenhouse gases?

But there are things you can do to help meat and poultry production be more sustainable and ethical.

  • You could reduce your weekly meat or poultry intake each week by one portion. You’ll still get the good things your body needs but also reduce the cost of this food on the environment.
  • Buying organic meat and poultry may reduce the amount of environmental damage done by synthetic chemicals (like petro-chemical based fertilisers and pesticides).
  • Check where your meat and poultry has come from. Reducing your food miles is good for you and the environment.
  • And try to buy free-range meat and poultry if possible. Free-range means open pasture grazing for animals (rather than small indoor sheds or cages).

So when you are shopping, try to buy local, in season, higher welfare and less processed meat and poultry. This is best for you, your family and dinner guests, the animals involved and the environment.


  • Meat and poultry are a great source of protein and lots of other nutrients your body needs.
  • Check your recommended intake of meat and poultry and try to stick with it.
  • Meat and poultry must be stored and cooked safely.
  • There are lots of ways you can shop for meat and poultry sustainably and ethically.
Meat and poultry (2024)


What is considered meat and poultry? ›

Lean meats - Beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo, lean (lower salt) sausages. Poultry - Chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds. Fish and seafood - Fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams. Eggs - Chicken eggs, duck eggs.

What meat is called poultry? ›

Poultry is any domesticated bird used for food. Varieties include chicken, turkey, goose, duck, Rock Cornish hens, and game birds such as pheasant, squab and guinea fowl. Also included are huge birds such as ostrich, emu and rhea (ratites).

What is the meat or poultry? ›

Meat includes all red meats from animal sources, although the only ones commonly available are beef, veal, pork, and lamb (or mutton in some countries). Poultry is the inclusive term for turkey, chicken, and duck, as well as pheasants and other less available fowl.

What food group is meat and poultry in? ›

The lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans is a diverse group of foods, both nutritionally and biologically. This group is an important source of protein as well as a range of micronutrients such as iodine, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3s).

Why is poultry not called meat? ›

The USDA considers all livestock animals (including beef, veal, pork) to be "red meat” because their muscles contain enough myoglobin that their fresh meat is deep red in color prior to being cooked. Poultry and seafood are not considered to be red meats because they contain less myoglobin.

Are eggs meat or poultry? ›

While eggs are not considered dairy, they are also not considered to be meat. We do consider them to be poultry products, but that isn't the same as meat. That's why vegetarians can eat them, but vegans can't as they are still animal byproducts.

What are 5 examples of poultry? ›

Chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, geese and turkeys can be found in all types of poultry systems, both large and small.

Is pork a poultry? ›

As such, it's classified as red meat despite not having a bright red color — and even if it becomes lighter when cooked. Second, given that pigs are farm animals, pork is classified as livestock along with beef, lamb, and veal, and all livestock are considered red meat. Pork has more myoglobin than poultry and fish.

What makes a meat poultry? ›

Poultry meat refers to the edible portion of any domesticated avian species, such as chicken, duck, turkey, geese, guinea fowl, and Japanese quail. Poultry meat has an important role in fulfilling the demand of high quality animal protein and food security.

Is poultry another word for meat? ›

"Poultry" can be defined as domestic fowls, including chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, raised for the production of meat or eggs and the word is also used for the flesh of these birds used as food. The Encyclopædia Britannica lists the same bird groups but also includes guinea fowl and squabs (young pigeons).

What is the healthiest meat to eat? ›

While meat can be a part of a healthy diet, not all sources are created equal. The leanest and healthiest meats to eat include poultry, pork, fish, and seafood.

How is meat classified? ›

There are five characteristics of meat classification for beef, lamb, sheep and goats. These include age, fat distribution, conformation, damages, and the sex of the animal.

What meat is considered poultry? ›

What is poultry? Poultry is any domesticated bird that can be eaten, including chicken, turkey, goose, duck, pheasant and more.

What is the meat and poultry category? ›

Final answer: Beef, pork, and poultry belong to the meat category in the food manufacturing industry, which is influenced by evolving consumption patterns.

How much meat is too much per day? ›

If you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red or processed meat a day, it is recommended that you cut down to 70g. Red meat includes beef, lamb, mutton, pork, veal, venison and goat. Processed meat is any meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives.

What is not considered meat? ›

According to the conventional definition, meat is any flesh of a warm-blooded animal, such as beef, pork, lamb, and veal. Under this definition, fish is not considered meat because it is cold-blooded.

Does shrimp count as meat? ›

Seafood also falls into the meat category. This includes fish, crustaceans, and shellfish. A lot of seafood options have great nutritional value and protein, especially for a healthy diet.

What foods are considered meat? ›

The American Meat Science Association defines meat as red meat (beef, pork, and lamb), poultry, fish/seafood, and meat from other managed species (AMSA, 2017).

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