Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro. Today we are going to get all up in the weeds about the idea of bacteria and air fryers. Will air fryers kill bacteria in food or should we be worried that air fried food still might contain bacteria? Today we plan to put the record straight and lay out what you should and should not be worried about 🙂
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical expert, so I am going to rely on my research skills and finding reliable sources that ARE medical experts. If you are in doubt about anything after reading this article, please consult a professional.
Will an air fryer kill bacteria? The answer is yes! The temperatures involved in air frying coupled with the typical cook times will probably kill most bacteria harmful to humans if not all bacteria altogether!
Let’s go over this in more detail…
What is Bacteria?
Bacteria is everywhere, but it is so small it can only be viewed through a microscope. Bacteria takes the form of a simple single-cell organism. I am not going to delve into all the technical details here (this is an air fryer site after all). If you want to delve deeper yourself, Live Science has an excellent article you should check out.
Why Should I worry about Bacteria?
Humans have a rather love hate relationship with bacteria. Sometimes bacteria can help us! For example, some good bacteria can help with digestion! Although some others can cause fatal illnesses that should be avoided. So we have to be very careful when we think about bacteria.
Examples of Good Bacteria
I am sure most of you have hurt about pro-biotics, right? These are thrown around as being excellent for your gut health (mostly by yoghurt makers!). Pro-biotics are actually a type of bacteria.
Rhizobium is another helpful bacteria that can be found in soil and is vital to helping plants grow.
Streptomyces bacteria types are used to fight bacterial infections and can be found in many types of antibiotics.
Examples of Bad Bacteria
Unfortunately, it is not all roses when it comes to bacteria. There are a handful of bacteria types that can cause you serious harm. These can cause infections and are called pathogenic bacteria.
Salmonella is commonly known to me as someone who grew up in England. This is mainly because a B-list celebrity named Edwina Curry scared everyone into thinking that eating too many eggs was a salmonella risk. Of course, she was wrong!! The main thing to remember about Salmonella is that if it gets into your gut in the right amounts, it can cause food poisoning. In some rare cases, it might even cause death.
E.Coli is another bad bacteria that most people have heard (and been warned) about. You might not know that its full name is Escherichia coli though! There are a few specific strains of E.Coli that will do you harm when in the gut and cause food poisoning. They can also cause such things as urinary tract infections and even pneumonia.
Listeria is not as widely known, but can cause a bacterial infection that is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and the elderly.
How is Bacteria Killed?
When we are talking about killing bacteria, it’s all about the heat. This is why processes like pasteurisation were invented by the food industry to act as a safety net and prevent any type of bacteria from getting through (good or bad!!). Pasteurization basically treats food with a high enough heat (around 72 degrees Celsius or 162 Fahrenheit) to kill most of the bad bacteria that might be there. A lot of people don’t like pasteurisation though as it kills a lot of nutrients and good bacteria too! Although that’s a story for another day!!
After all this chatter about bacteria and how we kill them, it is now time to relate this directly to the air fryer!!
Will an Air Fryer Kill Bacteria?
For the most part, the answer is yes. The method of pasteurizing food mentioned above uses a temperature of around 72C/162F to kill the main bad bacteria people are worried about. Some food manufacturers will sterilize food by heating it for a short time to 132C/270F and kill pretty much all bacteria (hence the name sterilization). Think about the temperatures used in most air fryers. They are often way above the sterilization temperature mentioned above. Not only this, but the fact that air fried food would be exposed to this heat for extended periods of time, whereas in sterilization it’s just a few seconds! This means you have little to worry about when it comes to bacteria and air fried food.
What about Meat?
The thing about meat is you need to make sure the temperatures measured above are present throughout the meat. Often, meat is thick and can have bones, so more care is required. The best thing to do is buy a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature of the meat after each blitz in the air fryer 🙂 I have found a great example on my recommended products page.
Most people don’t like to use the sterilisation method for meat, as the high temperatures would remove a lot of the flavor and texture that makes it taste good! As long as you make sure all the meat you cook has an internal temperature of at least 74C/165F you should be good to go, as it will have killed most harmful bacteria to humans. Cook all your meat to ‘well done’ to achieve this, checking with your meat thermometer.
What Should I do if I am Still Worried about Bacteria and Air Fryers?
I know that there are still going to be those ‘super careful’ people out there that will freak out at the thought of any bacteria in their air fried food! I can understand this, especially if you have young children to look after at home!
What would I recommend for these ‘super careful’ people? In my opinion, it’s simple. Whatever you are cooking in your air fryer, give it a quick blast at the highest temperature your air fryer offers (for me, its 200C/392f). If you do this for around a minute, it shouldn’t affect the food you are cooking and will be long enough to kill any remaining harmful bacteria. Job done! If you are cooking something thick or big (like a pie) you can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of these larger items too. As long as it’s at least 72C/162F you should be good to go!
Don’t Let Bacteria Grow in the First Place!
Bacteria will grow and multiply at a temperature of around 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (or 5 to 60 Celsius), so as well as killing bacteria during cooking you can limit their development in the first place by making sure the food/ingredients you are cooking in your air fryer are well refrigerated before use 🙂
Bacteria also needs moisture to grow in the first place, so be sure to dry your air fryer after washing it out. Especially as it will then probably be sat at the bacteria danger zone of 40 to 140F whilst it is sat on your kitchen counter!
I’m Not Worried, and Neither Should You!
The temperatures most air fried foods get up to should be more than enough to kill most of the undesirable bacteria that can cause illness. I have been using my air fryer for many years now and I have never gotten ill from the food I have cooked in it!
This is just my opinion. What do you think? Do you have any thoughts or experiences regarding bacteria and air fryers? We would love to hear all about them in the comments section below!!