In order to ensure bacteria does not cause contamination, and food poisoning, it is essential to prepare, and store meat safely. Few safety tips:
- Store raw meat and poultry in clean, sealed containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This prevents the meat/poultry from making contact with other foods.
- Follow all storage instruction on the label, and never eat meat/poultry after its ‘use by’ date. Failure to do so can lead to serious, and even life threatening illness.
- Cool cooked meat which is not going to be eaten immediately as soon as possible, and then store in the fridge or freezer.
- Keep cooked meat separate from raw meat.
- To further prevent contamination from raw meat, thoroughly clean plates, utensils, surfaces and hands immediately.
Freezing meat safely
Raw meat can be frozen safely, providing that you:
- Freeze the meat before the ‘use by’ date.
- Follow all freezing, and thawing instructions
- As a rule of thumb, allow 24 hours to defrost each 2.5kg/5lbs of meat or chicken
- If you defrost raw meat and then cook it thoroughly, you can freeze it again, but remember never to reheat foods more than once.
- The meat can be cooked immediately if defrosted in a microwave. If the meat requires to be cooked later, thaw it in the fridge in order to prevent it from getting too warm.
- Upon defrosting, ensure the meat is used within two days. It will expire in the same manner as fresh meat.
- Ensure that the meat is cooked until it is steaming hot all the way through.
It is important to note that when meat thaws, it releases liquid. This liquid can spread bacteria to any food, plates, utensils, or surfaces that it touches. Ensure that the meat is stored in a sealed container on the bottom shelf of the fridge; this prevents contamination. Meat which is defrosted, and then cooked thoroughly, it can be frozen again. However, it is imperative to never reheat meat, or any other food more than once as this can lead to poisoning.
Cooking meat safely
In order to decrease the risk of food poisoning, meat should not be washed. This is because the droplets of water can splash on to other surfaces, and can contaminate them with bacteria. It is essential to cook meat properly, as it ensures that harmful bacteria are killed; this in turn prevents food poisoning. When meat is cooked all the way through, its juices run clear, and there is no pink or red meat left on the inside.
The following meats should be cooked all the way through:
- Poultry such as chicken & turkey
- Burgers and sausages
- Rolled joints of meat
You can eat whole cuts of beef or lamb when they are pink inside – or “rare” – as long as they are cooked on the outside. This is because any bacteria are generally on the outside of the meat.
- For extra uncooked meat follow any storage instructions on the label and don’t eat meat after its ‘use by’ date
- When you have cooked meat and you’re not going to eat it straight away, cool it as quickly as possible and then put it in the fridge or freezer
- Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking and eaten within three days
- Remember never reheat foods more than once
General food safety tips
Replace sponges and kitchen towels regularly. Washing your dishes and cutting boards with dirty sponges and towels can spread more bacteria. Bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens also grow on sponges and towels over time, so make sure to clean your sponge thoroughly every other day and replace it about once per week.