There are numerous requirements that can help to ensure that cold meat is stored safely and correctly. Following the correct and only the best practices for storing meat means having the correct packaging to monitoring the storage. Whether it is fresh or frozen, the storage of meat is essential for your business and its success.
This guide looks at various ways to ensure that you can store your meat safely and correctly. Regardless of whether you cater for a restaurant, are a caterer, supermarket owner or distributor, this guide will provide you with some insight to increase the quality of your industries produce.
A specific temperature of -18°C is required legally for frozen produce as the maximum. This means that there are specific temperature’s that will be required to ensure that food is stored safely and quality is maintained.
Chilled foods require a temperature of 4°C and below for them to be in the ‘safe zone’. Lower temperatures may be suitable for providing a peace of mind in addition to benefits such as lower extended storage times.
Safe Storage Times for Meat
The storage of fresh meat is vital to extend the life of fresh meat considerably. Making sure you have stored meat at the right temperature can have many benefits. This will assist in the reduction of waste and the expansion of your stock. This will also help in increasing profitability within your business.
If raw meat is stored incorrectly this can negatively impact the shelf life. The below storage times offer an estimated guideline for a variety of common meats but shelf life can sometimes vary. If you feel that there is something that is not right, it is always good to double check to prevent waste.
Average Meat Shelf Life when Frozen at Temperatures Below -18°C
Beef – 12 Months
Beef Mince – 6 Months
Lamb – 12 Months
Pork – 8 Months
Veal – 10 Months
Sausages – 6 Months
Shelf life can vary for products dependant on temperature storage. When storing meat 4°C and below the temperature at drops considerably and this should be taken into account if using cold storage in restaurants or at big catering events.
There is a variance dependant on what meat it is that you are storing. For example, regular meats, such as beef, pork, lamb and sausages typically last between 3 – 5 days at these temperatures. Minced meats, offal and poultry generally have a to some extent shorter shelf life of 3 days maximum.
It is always important to make sure you are monitoring the storage of the products. As the use of your site and smell can help determine if products are safe to consume. To be extra careful, sticking to the approved sell-by dates. An addition, contrary to the sell-by date, if you feel that products are not safe to consume, do not serve them. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Best Practices for Packing and Stocking
Packing and stocking of products is imperative. The use of Well-thought-of packaging and stocking methods go a long way in preserving and protecting the produce that you store and are a necessity for safe cold storage of meat. All meat should be individually wrapped in tight packaging, free from tears or holes.
To prevent cross contamination and meat spoilage, double checking the packaging is important. This will ensure that you are minimising the risk of waste and profit. Keeping on top of your storage of produce will guarantee that you maintain quality and freshness of produce.
Ensuring that your company has a procedure to follow will help minimise waste of products. For example, within the catering and food industry, the ‘first in first out’ rule is generally the most effective for businesses.
If your business does not already follow this technique it may be worth considering. This will help improve safety within your cold storage units.
Meat in Ambient Atmospheres
For the health and safety of your customers and success of your business, safe handling and preparation of meat is required. It is vital to never re-freeze or re-chill meat if it has been left out at room temperature. Meat can reach potential harmful temperatures if left out too long and this is when bacteria can develop. This will result in the unsafe consumption of the meat.
Additionally, if transferring produce from one cold unit to another, ambient temperature exposure should be kept to a minimum. If you continually review your operational process and focus on improving it, this will assist in improving the quality of meat in cold storage.
Meat should never be removed from cold storage for a prolonged period of time unless it is being used.
Cold Storage Maintenance
Refrigeration and freezer maintenance is an additional requirement for the safe cold storage of meat. High-quality units are built to last long-term and should not cause problems if maintained on a regular basis. However, if maintenance and correct procedures are not undertaken, it could compromise the effectiveness of your cold storage unit.
A few tips for ensuring effective cold storage maintenance:
- Check for temperature fluctuations on a regular basis. If you suspect any issues, call an engineer immediately and tackle potential problems prior to them resulting in food wastage.
- Place your cold storage in an area where the fans are unlikely to obstruct and get in the way. This may result in overheating, unwanted damage and impacting the internal temperature.
- Regularly deep clean your cold storage and ensure maintenance routine is kept. This will reduce cross contamination and bacterial build up. It is up to you to ensure the correct hygiene and safety standards are carried out as efficiently as they could be.
At CRS Ireland, we offer a wide range of commercial, food-grade cold storage units specifically for use with meat, fish and poultry products. To find out more about how our commercial refrigeration and freezing could improve the safety of your produce, get in contact with a member of our team today.