Food Safety – Meat

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Many fridges and freezers are always well stocked with meat intended for the barbecues in the summer or the festive period, but ultimately not used.

Particularly where meat is concerned, there’s no reason why much of it still can’t be used but it’s important to be sure about what are the right and wrong things to do before risking the health of your family or indeed your customers.

But, what are some of the more pertinent dos and don’ts where the use of meat is concerned?

  • Can you refreeze defrosted meat or chicken? – Although it’s generally right to believe that this shouldn’t be done, it is fine to refreeze if the meat was defrosted in a fridge running at 5 degrees c or below. You may have to compromise on quality slightly but it can be done without becoming a health hazard. That said, it may be better to cook the meat and then refreeze once it has stopped steaming and been divided into smaller pieces.
  • Should you always wash meat before use? – Water can potentially contain bacteria that could be
    harmful to the meat you’re about to cook, so shouldn’t be washed prior to use. It’s different if you’re dealing with items such as vegetables which won’t require further cooking later, but it does highlight the requirements to prepare such foods and raw eats in completely separate areas.
  • Let hot food cool completely before placing in the fridge – Leaving food out for an extended period can ultimately prove particularly harmful, particularly if you’re unsure of the exact temperature of the room. Generally, leftovers, whether hot or not, should be placed in the fridge as soon as they cease to steam. This will likely be no more than a period of 30 minutes, reducing condensation levels. If it is a large portion of food it will cool quicker if divided up into smaller servings.
  • Don’t go by smell alone – Bacteria can be growing without any obvious visible or pungent impact on food. So, if you have reason to believe that food has been left out longer than is acceptable before being refrigerated it is best to avoid it.
  • Does oil help to preserve food left a room temperature? – This process will not necessarily negate the growth of bacteria on food left out at room temperature. Indeed, in some cases a coating of oil can actually facilitate a lack of oxygen which will aid their growth.

Although the advice within this piece is relevant to any time of year, the warnings within may be even more prevalent in the summer months when barbecues particularly are at their height and temperatures in general are much higher. The bottom line is that you should always be mindful of how food is prepared and kept, planning in advance where possible if you are looking to extent its useful life.

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