Meat cold storage has many important elements. It will be best for you to know what are the best practices in cold storage to adapt if you are playing in the industry of cold storage of meats and poultry.
It is essential for your business to understand the correct meat cold room procedures. Your products should be at their freshest and safest state when they reached the consumers. The meat is prone to bacteria as earliest as the slaughtering stage. Bacterias that take shelter to raw meat are harmful and might cause food poisoning once the meat is consumed. Assuring the quality and safety of meat not only requires a thousand dollars worth of equipment but also passing the highest grade standards of the food industry.
As it is also a business, you might want to maximize the profits by selling all your stocks at their highest price potential. Following the aforementioned standards can help you achieve your highest profits. Take note consumers now prefer quality over quantity. Money is of no consequence to quality and safe products.
Luckily for you, this guide can help you be informed in a lot of different ways that are safe for the cold storage of meat. Whether you are a meat storage owner or distributor, you can be sure that your product will maintain its utmost quality.
What are Some of the Best Practices for the Cold Storage of Meat?
In general, the freezer is the place where you can safely store your food the longest. You can safely freeze meat for an indefinite amount of time. And it can store whatever kinds of meat, whether it’s beef, chicken, pork, or fish. According to USDA guidelines, freezing these foods to 0°F (-18°C) inactivates microbes like bacteria, yeasts, and mold. It also slows down enzyme activity, basically all of the stuff that can harm your food. There’s no need for a fancy vacuum sealer to freeze meat safely. However, it does help if you seal out moisture, as it can maintain the freshness of these foods for longer periods before you use the meat.
While the original packaging is okay to store these foods safely, the USDA recommends adding another layer of plastic wrap or foil before plunging your meats into the frozen abyss. The moisture will be kept out, and the foods will remain tasting fresh due to the extra layer. Another way to help preserve taste and nutrients is by freezing meats when they are as fresh as possible.
How About Re-Freezing?
According to USDA, thawed meats that you do not end up cooking can still be safely refrozen. However, they must be thawed properly first. And it is to remember that meats left out for a few hours in temperatures above 90°F (32°C) can not be refrozen.
LABEL: Freeze Moderately
You probably should not store meat and fish for too long despite your freezer’s capacity. This will only cause your meat to taste terrible. It is important to remember the recommended time limits for freezing cuts of meat and seafood, as stated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source and USDA.
The freezer will always be the safest when thinking about following those time limits. In the freezer, raw meats and fish will always last longer than they do in the fridge. It is important to take care in defrosting these foods once you take them out of the freezer. According to USDA guidelines, you should only thaw frozen meats in the fridge or a leak-proof plastic bag submerged in cold water. Bacteria can rapidly grow if you defrost at room temperature.
Make sure you do not drip on anything as you defrost meats. This also applies to marinating raw meat in the fridge. To prevent spillage, place the meat in a covered dish.
No Cold Requirements for Canned Meats and Fish?
Unlike other meats, canned meats and fish go beyond the freezer.
It is a different process when it comes to canning. They still, however, fulfill the purpose of keeping your food safe and unspoiled.
To kill the bacteria, the food is heated and then vacuum sealed. This will then create a sterile environment and will also prevent the growth of bacteria from forming. They have a very long storage life, lasting between two to five years (if stored in proper conditions). However, this leaves them more limited than what can be stored in a freezer or fridge. The reason for this is because there tends to be a specific format for canned meats and fish.
While few, there are still examples of when the fridge is the best option for storage over your freezer or canned foods on the cupboard. You can skip freezing prepared meats that have been studied, for instance, and only refrigerate those before cooking, according to the FDA Trusted Source. Another thing to add is that mayonnaise, cream sauces, and lettuces do not freeze well. According to USDA, avoid freezing these kinds of foods or any meats that have been prepared with them.
How Long Can Some Meats Remain Frozen?
Despite freezing meat as a way to prolong their shelf life, not all of them are the same. They are not equal to each other. Each meat has its own unique storage time. Different factors contribute to how long a piece of meat should last in a blast freezer. Even elements like the fat and water content or the size of the cut can change the longevity of meat.
Here is a list of how long regular cuts of meat can last and stay fresh at -18°C. These timings are a good indication of the lifespan of the meat. Please take note, however, that this is if storage procedures have been correctly followed:
- Beef – 6 to 12 months
- Lamb – 12 months
- Veal – 10 months
- Pork – 6 months
- Beef Mince – 6months
- Sausage – 6 months
- Lean Fish – 6 or 8 months
- Chicken – 9 months
The storage time is longer for beef and lamb since they are made up of hard fats. Not to mention, the hard fats are partially saturated. Lower levels of saturated fat make younger meats such as veal or pork deteriorate much faster. Larger cuts of meat take longer to blast freeze initially. Larger cuts of meat almost always have a smaller storage time.
You should always be careful in filling the container of your cold storage of meat. It should never be overfilled. If this happens, it can lead to the meat freezing at a slower rate or unevenly. This can cause food-borne illness for your customers, which is bad for business.
Do Ambient Temperatures Affect Anything?
There is a risk of condensation when the products leave the cold room. The condensation of atmospheric humidity on the cold surfaces makes them wet. Not to mention, it makes them liable as well to microbial development. Packaging materials can be damaged or spoiled in appearance because of this. Sometimes, if carton or cardboard packaging is used, it can even be irreversible.
When the dew point of the ambient air is higher than the surface temperature of the product or its packaging, that is when condensation occurs. When that happens at that point, it is important and required to take some precautions. You can proceed on a progressive rewarming pattern. Another precaution is introducing slightly warmed air to form quick evaporation of the moisture. Covering the product with an awning is also a good option. Finally, packaging materials that can be used to resist the adverse effect of moisture helps as well.
Any unloading operation must be written on the control table for the chamber. This means including all data that is relevant as well. This will help in having efficient management and stock control.
Monitoring Standards in Cold Storage of Meat
Loggers’ Real-Time Tracking
AKCP wireless temperature sensors provide a data logging solution for cold storage that frequently shipped chilled and frozen meat products to far-off distribution centers and markets. Slaughterhouse must maintain the temperature of meats from the processing, warehouse cold storage, transport up until it reaches the consumers. Proof of adequate product handling was always necessary for management, as they could face serious financial losses and a damaging loss of customer confidence if they were unable to demonstrate that the correct temperatures had been maintained throughout transit.
The frozen food needed to be kept at -20°C (-4°F), and the fresh meat at -1.7°C (+29°F). If these mandatory temperatures were not stabilized throughout the entire shipping link of the client’s cold chain, the meat would deteriorate and could in the worst-case scenario cause food poisoning. Therefore, it was essential that accurate temperature records be maintained during shipping until the products reached their destination.
AKCP wireless temperature sensors ensure that your environmental conditions are within required parameters, log and graph data over time, and receive real-time alerts when user-defined sensor thresholds are exceeded. Used as a data logger with data buffered and synchronized to the gateway when in range.
This article is only a guideline. The rest is up to action. Before the meat is served, proper safety and quality control checks should always be undertaken.
It is important to make your food go as far as it can go if you are working in the food industry. At the very worst, your business can stop being profitable due to wasted food. However, you can keep your produce fresher with the use of proper cold storage and monitoring systems. This innovative technology would ensure your product’s long shelflife and on top quality.
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