When it comes to animal products, many types of bacteria can grow on them. When it comes to food safety, handling meat is of the utmost concern. This includes selection, handling, and storage. It can be confusing, though, as different types of meat have different rules!
Meat safety means understanding what type of meat you have and how to handle it. It may be perfectly safe to eat meat a week after cooking it. But, the same may not apply to other types, which you need to throw away after just a few days.
There are many issues related to safe meat associated with everything you eat. A healthy kitchen depends on safely selecting, storing, and handling meat. In truth, the same applies to general food safety.
Safe Meat Selection
First, and most importantly for meat safety, never buy meat that’s past its expiry date or the sell-by. Also, when at the shop, buy meat only after you’ve found all your other items. This decreases the time that the meat is not refrigerated for.
Follow these specific guidelines when selecting certain meats:
- Beef and pork are safe meat types when not dark brown or discoloured. Additionally, they should not have a strong odour, or feel tough or slimy.
- When it comes to handling meat from a chicken, avoid poultry that looks faded. Like beef and pork, chicken should not have a strong odour, nor feel tough or slimy.
- Avoid faded looking fish, or fish with discolouration. Healthy fish should also not have squishy or slimy flesh, and should not have an ammonia-like odour.
- Damaged, leaking, and torn packages are not ideal for food safety. The contents are likely exposed to the air, and thus harmful bacteria.
Before, during, and after meat preparation, be sure to wash your hands often. Bacteria can spread very quickly between your hands and meat. To ensure meat safety, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after handling meat. This applies whether the meat is raw or cooked.
Bacteria can spread with ease, so try preparing the meat on a surface that’s separate from all other cooking materials. For safe meat preparation, keep it out of contact with vegetables and other ingredients. This applies especially if you aren’t cooking them together.
When handling meat, follow these guidelines:
- Try to use separate cutting boards for meat and other ingredients.
- Clean all cooking utensils after they touch raw meat.
- Use different utensils to serve food after you have prepared it.
Storing Meat for Food Safety
When it comes to food safety, proper storage is also important. Uncured, raw meat will usually last for around three days in the fridge. But, if you want to keep it for longer, freezing is a good idea. Be sure to pack the meat in an airtight package beforehand, though. Frozen meat can last for several months.
You should also try to maintain safe freezing and refrigeration temperatures. Your freezer should operate as close to -18°C as possible. Your fridge should operate at about 1.1°C to maximise the shelf life of your foods.
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