The Purpose of Applied Heat is both for Taste and Health.
How Hot
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How Hot? When reading a recipe, do you get confused with heat instructions? If so, this is a good article to keep handy when needed!

Applying cooking heat in its various forms is often thought of as a way to improve the flavor or texture of food.

Applied cooking heat can break down the tough connective tissues and fibers in food. Applied heat can also help foods release their essential flavors and caramelize their sugars for better taste.

Cooking food to internal temperatures above 140 °F (60 °C), technically 135°F (57 °C), also slows the growth of bacteria and other pathogens. Most non-spore forming bacteria die if they are exposed to temperatures of 165 °F (74 °C) and above for as little 15 to 30 seconds. Others like Clostridium PerfringensClostridium Botulinum can survive for hours in boiling water. It takes temperatures above 250°F (121°C) for 30 seconds to kill the tougher, spore-forming bacteria.  

Lesson 4: Introduction to Cooking Methods is where we first cover actually cooking foods but what we want to convey is the idea that heat properly applied can slow and/or kill illness causing pathogens like BacteriaViruses and Parasites.

In our world, not always an optimal one, we can’t achieve those higher heats needed to be perfectly safe, without having heat damage the product we are trying to sterilize.

Protein begins to break down, lose nutritional value and texture, at 160 °F (71 °C). Vitamins in vegetables, especially the water soluble B & C vitamins, are damaged by higher heat and longer cooking times. 

Ultimately, there is a tradeoff between, perfectly safe, perfectly nutritious and perfectly tasty.

Your ultimate Final Cooking Temperatures will vary from dish to dish, as you consider your desired outcome, your product, its quality, and your guests. For example pork products should always be cooked above an internal temperature of 155 °F (68 °C) to kill the trichinosis parasites that are resident in domestic pork.

But should you take it all the way to 165 °F (74 °C) where it might be tough? The answer may lie in considering your guests, are any very young, very old, ill or pregnant? It may also lie in how much faith you have in your pork provider. Ultimately, there is a risk/reward ratio and you will have to make the call.