When to Accept or Reject Fresh Meat, Poultry and Seafood

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Fresh Meat

Food service operators are becoming proactive in their approach to cold food management. Most restaurants have scheduled temperature checks, both ambient and core, for all foods in refrigerated environments. Managers and chains are also requiring a log of regular temperature checks from their distribution network.

Though the trend is spreading, not all distributors are taking accurate temperature readings. If this is the case, simply rely on your other senses and reference the following table to know when to accept or reject fresh meat:

Food Safety Standards and Potential Contamination Warning Signs

FoodTemperatureAcceptReject
Fresh Beef40° or lowerColor: bright redBrown, green or purple splotches
Fresh PorkColor: bright redBlack, white or greenish spots
Fresh LambColor: white fat, pinkCartons are broken Meat wrappers are dirty or torn
Fresh Poultry40° or lowerTexture: firm and springs back when touchedPurple or green discoloration around neck.Darkened wing tips.Abnormal odor.Stickiness under wings and joints.Soft, flabby flesh
Fresh Fish40° or lowerEyes: bright, clear and fullTexture: flesh and belly are firm and spring back when touched.Packed in self-draining iceFishy or ammonia odorEyes sunken, cloudy or red-borderedDry gillsFlesh is soft and givesFinger imprint stays if pressed into flesh
Fresh Shellfish45°F or lower when live0°F or lower when frozenN/AShells are partly open and don’t close when tappedSoft shellStrong odor

 

Keeping Fresh Food Fresh

Letting your fresh food rot is like letting the ice cream fall from your cone. Or letting it melt. Or shoving it into the dirt—you get the picture. Use these products and techniques to ensure your fresh food stays that way.

  • Utilize a blast chiller to lower food temperatures faster and more efficiently, minimizing the time that foods spend in the danger zone.
  • Place food in a container and set in an ice-bath, keeping the container submerged evenly to ensure consistent cooling throughout.
  • Immediately place food in a commercial refrigerator, whose primary function is to store food at or below 40°F.
  • Use a probe type meat thermometer to accurately track temperatures as a food cools.

 

photo credit: RuanNiemann via photopin cc

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