Due to its chemical composition which is rich in protein, lipids, and water, meat is a particularly favorable substrate for the growth of microorganisms. The lipidic content also makes it very sensitive to oxidation. Microorganism growth is a temperature-dependent process.
The meat trade is made up of several distinct activities, which together transform a living animal into a nutritious and wholesome foodstuff. These activities require slaughterhouse, cutting and packaging buildings, cold stores and distribution centers.
A meat cold storage space consists of a building (usually including a group of cold chambers) designed to keep meat in well-defined conditions of temperature and relative humidity. The chambers should be heat-insulated and artificially refrigerated and have proper ventilation.
Handling and Storage Procedures of Meat.
Proper meat handling and storage can prevent most foodborne illnesses. In order for pathogens to grow in food, certain conditions must be present. By controlling the environment and conditions, even if potentially harmful bacteria are present in the unprepared or raw food, they will not be able to survive, grow, and multiply, causing illness. There are six factors that affect bacterial growth, which can be referred to by the mnemonic FATTOM:
Each of these factors contributes to bacterial growth in the following ways:
• Food: Bacteria require food to survive. For this reason, moist, protein-rich foods are good potential sources of bacterial growth.
• Acid: Bacteria do not grow in acidic environments. This is why acidic foods like lemon juice and vinegar do not support the growth of bacteria and can be used as preservatives.
• Temperature: Most bacteria will grow rapidly between 4°C and 60°C. This is referred to as the danger zone (see the illustration below for more information on the danger zone).
• Time: Bacteria require time to multiply. When small numbers of bacteria are present, the risk is usually low, but extended time with the right conditions will allow the bacteria to multiply and increase the risk of contamination.
Unpreserved meat, such as beef, pork and lamb has only a relatively short life in storage. Perishable meats should be refrigerated, frozen, dried promptly or curred. Storage of fresh meats is a complex discipline that affects the costs, storage life and eating quality of the meat, and the appropriate techniques vary with the kind of meat and the particular requirements. Modern techniques of preparing meat for storage vary with the type of meat and special requirement of tenderness, flavor, hygiene, and economy.
When storing meats, poultry, and seafood items, remember the Critical Control Point.
Keep these factors in mind when storing fresh meats, poultry, and produce:
• All carcass meats should be unwrapped and hung so that air can circulate around them. They should be stored at 1°C to 3°C in a walk-in refrigerator.
• Fresh meat must not be kept too long. Boned meat should be kept no longer than three days. Individual cuts should be used within two days, preferably on the day they are cut.
• Individual meat cuts such as steaks, chops, stewing meat, and ground meat should be kept covered at 2°C to 4°C.
• Fresh poultry should be packed in ice and stored in the refrigerator.
• Fresh seafood should be packed in ice, stored at –1°C to 2°C and used as soon as possible.
Frozen foods should be stored at –18°C or lower. If the temperature rises above –18°C, food can become discolored and lose vitamin content. Lowering the temperature after it has risen does not correct the damage.
Freezing is usually limited to meat to be used as buffer stock, frequently intended for export or for storage with a view to later processing. When the preservation period is longer than that acceptable for chilled meat, freezing must be used to minimize any physical, biochemical and microbiological changes affecting quality in storage. During freezing most of the water content of the meat, about 80 percent, solidifies into pure ice crystals, accompanied by a separation of dissolved solids.
A product can be considered frozen when its center has a temperature of -12°C or less.
The speed of freezing is a very important factor as frozen meat quality depends mainly on the size of the ice crystal formed: the lower the speed of freezing the larger the size of the crystals. Freezing is performed in chambers with intense air circulation called blast freezers.
Keep these factors in mind when storing frozen foods:
• Fish and meat properly wrapped have a relatively long freezer shelf life
• Fresh meat must be properly prepared for freezing or it will not store well.
• All freezer products not properly wrapped will develop freezer burn, which is a loss of moisture that affects both the texture and the flavour of the food. A common sign of freezer burn is a white or grey dry spot developing on the surface of the frozen product. Meat is particularly susceptible to freezer burn.
• Rotating stock is extremely important with frozen meat.
Meats properly frozen are transferred from the freezer to storage chambers where temperature, relative humidity, and air circulation should be adequate and can be tightly controlled. In particular fluctuations in temperature must be kept to a very narrow time interval. As there is a certain degree of quality deterioration, even at very low temperatures, storage life is limited. The usual temperatures are in the range of -18° to -25°C for periods of preservation of one year or more. However, each type of meat requires specific conditions. The table below gives some approximate data regarding these.
For frozen meats and other animal products storage incompatibility is low. The temperature level needed in the chamber is similar for all of them.
Dawsongroup Ireland Ltd. can supply Cold Storage solutions designed for time-critical temperature reduction. We provide a pre-order calculation service to ensure that you receive the right unit to achieve the desired result in the quantities and time that you need. We know that whether chilled or frozen, the product must be cooled as quickly as possible to maintain quality and extend shelf life. Dawsongroup Ireland Ltd. also understands the importance of cost and will, therefore, work with you on a cost comparison against alternative methods so that you achieve the most cost-effective blasting for your business.
Through asset rental, you are able to reach demand without major capital being spent.
We’re proud to offer the best cold storage solutions for businesses throughout Ireland.
Want to find out more about the commercial, bulk meat freezing? See our meat cold storage page or get in touch with us on 045 448 819
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For more information regarding the meat cold storage, visit the link: http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/T0098E/T0098E02.htm