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H&W Column: Meat Managing

 

Have you ever wondered if you are handling meat properly? Some meats should be kept separate from other products to avoid cross-contamination and bacteria. It is also important to be aware of expiration dates to help prevent food poisoning.

There are several things that should be done in the process of choosing, preparing, and serving meat. When at the store, it is imperative to make sure the package the meat comes in has not been damaged or ripped. There shouldn’t be any discoloration or odor to the meat. If so, it should be thrown away immediately. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces regulations that manufacturers, distributors, and importers label their food products to be “safe”.

Once meat is transported home from the store, it should immediately be put into a refrigerator or freezer based off the plan of consumption. Refrigeration only slows down bacterial growth. Poultry, seafood, and raw ground meats should be refrigerated only 1-2 days before freezing or cooking. Leaner beef, pork, and steak can be kept up to 3-5 days. Cooked leftovers in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3-4 days.

When preparing meat, keep it separate from other foods as much as possible. When cutting, always use a different knife, cutting board, and plate. Always wash your hands and utensils after handling or cutting meat. Even if it’s in between uses, it will ensure there is no bacteria being transferred.

Meat should always be cooked to the correct temperature to ensure it is safe to eat. It is important to always check the meat with a meat thermometer to establish the correct temperature. These thermometers can vary in material and technology, but choosing whatever is easiest and more efficient is what will be effective.

Don’t forget to let meat rest after it’s been cooked. Some meat requires it while others do not. Certain meats will continue to cook after removing from the stove top, grill, etc. This time period is crucial for killing bacteria that could be sticking around. For more information on safe internal meat temperatures, visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-internal-temperatures  ###

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