You may assume you’ll be able to take your knowledge learned at home about meat into the food handling industry. However, who’s to say that your best practices are the best practices?
Whether you’re about to enter hospitality or you’ve enrolled in a Texas food handlers permit, here is some helpful information relating to the handling, storage, and selection of meat.
How to Purchase Meat
When you’re in charge of purchasing meat for your business, one of the best ways to do it is through approved suppliers. If they have all the appropriate health and safety measures in place, you can rest assured that all handling and storage processes have been followed.
However, there’s no harm in learning what bad meat looks like so that you can avoid purchasing it or accepting it from any suppliers.
Never purchase any beef or pork that feels tough or slimy, is discolored or dark brown, or has a strong odor. Chicken should also be avoided if it’s tough or slimy, discolored, or looks faded. If any meat or meat products you buy arrive in torn, leaking, or damaged packaging, refrain from using them.
By using meat or poultry presenting with any of these signs, you may be putting yourself and your customers at risk of food poisoning.
How to Handle Meat Properly
At home and at work in the hospitality industry, it’s crucial to get into the habit of handling meat in the safest way possible. This means that any time you will be working with meat, poultry, or fish, you should wash your hands. Wash them before and after handling raw and cooked meat for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
While preparing meat, keep all other ingredients away from it, especially if they will not be cooked together in the same dish. Avoiding cross-contamination can be made easier by always using separate utensils and cutting boards and cleaning and sanitizing them.
How to Store Meat
There can be a lot of misinformation about how to safely store meat. Generally, how many days, weeks, or months can depend on what that meat is and whether you’re keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Store meat that you won’t be using within three days in your freezer at °0F in a sealed container or wrap. You can then store it in the fridge for safe thawing. Once it has been defrosted, safe storage times can depend on what it is.
Uncooked poultry, fish, and ground meat can be refrigerated for up to two days before it needs to be cooked. Raw steaks or chops and cooked poultry, meat, or fish, can remain in your refrigerator for up to four days.
If you use lunch meat or hot dogs in food service, these can be safe for consumption in the fridge in an unopened pack for two weeks and up to one week in an open package.
How to Cook Meat Safely
The last thing any food handler wants to do is make a mistake that leads to severe illnesses among their patrons. Therefore, when you enter the food industry, take note of the best ways to cook meat safely.
Unlike poultry, other meats can be a lot more forgiving with cooking times and temperatures – especially for steaks and similar meats that cook on the rare to well-done spectrum.
Rare meat is cooked at 120-125°, medium at 140-145°F, and well-done at 165°F or higher. All ground meats should be cooked at 160°F and whole meat at 145°F.
Learn More With TABC Pronto
To make sure you can serve customers safely in the food industry, consider enrolling in the Texas food handlers card course with TABC Pronto. This 100% online course is fast, convenient, and easy to do from the comfort of your home. Sign up now to put food safety and hygiene first.