Health officials have admitted as much. In a January 2007 report published in the Journal of Food Protection , a panel called the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods conceded that, on the basis of preconceived notions of consumer taste, the FSIS recommended higher cooking temperatures to consumers than to makers of processed chicken products: "T he temperatures recommended to consumers by the FSIS exceed those provided to food processors, because poultry pieces cooked to 160 °F are generally unpalatable to the consumer because of the pink appearance and rubbery texture."
Elsewhere in the same report, the authors suggested that a final temperature of 77 degrees C / 170 degrees F for whole-muscle breast meat and 82 degrees C / 180 degrees F for whole-muscle thigh meat “may be needed for consumer acceptability and palatability.”
These are amazing admissions! In effect, the authors are saying that FSIS consumer regulations, which are ostensibly based on safety considerations, are in reality based on bureaucrats’ beliefs about consumer preference. That is hardly their charter! Shouldn’t chefs and consumers be the ones to decide what they would prefer to eat? Perhaps the most galling aspect of this stance is that the advisors are just wrong about the culinary facts. Chicken cooked at 58 degrees C / 136 degrees F and held there for the recommended time is neither rubbery nor pink . In our opinion its texture and flavor are far superior to those of chicken cooked at the extremely high temperatures the experts recommend. Regulators’ misguided and patronizing attempts to cater to consumer preference have served only to perpetuate the tradition of overcooking chicken.