Any business that prepares and serves meat needs to make sure that it is stored correctly. There are numerous requirements for safe meat storage, and following a few simple practices will guarantee that these are met.
The risks of not following correct procedures are great. Poor food storage is a leading cause of food poisoning. Making customers sick would be one of surest ways to make your business fail.
Safe Storage Temperatures
By law, frozen meat must be stored below -18°C as temperatures lower than this will not maintain the quality of the meat. Meat that is chilled must be stored at 4°C or below for it to remain safe. If it is stored at higher temperatures or if the temperature is allowed to fluctuate, it can allow dangerous micro-organisms to grow that could make the food hazardous to consume.
Any commercially available catering fridge will have a thermometer built in to allow regular monitoring of storage temperatures. Websites such as https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/catering-equipment offer a wide range of options to suit any business.
Storage Time Limits
Even when the storage temperature is correctly maintained, there is a limit to how long meat can be kept. It is essential that every worker at a food business is aware of these limits to prevent meat being served once it has passed this safe window.
The maximum storage time limit varies depending on the type of meat. For example, joints or steaks of beef can be stored for up to 12 months at -18°C, but beef mince should not be kept for longer than six months. Similarly, pork can be safely kept for up to eight months, but sausages should not be kept for more than six months.
Correct Stocking and Packing
It is imperative that meat is packed correctly for it to be stored safely. Meat should be tightly wrapped in packaging that does not have any holes because leaks could contaminate other stock.
The storage time limit for meat is extremely important, so it can be useful to implement a “first in, first out” stocking system. This means that the oldest products that are closest to going out of date will be used first, thereby reducing wastage.
Finally, it is important that all equipment used for meat storage is regularly cleaned and maintained.