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Storing and Handling Beef

Here are some tips to keep bacteria from your meat, so your beef remains safe. 

1.  It is not necessary to wash the meat before cooking.


2.  If you are worried about bacteria, any bacteria will be destroyed in the cooking process. Store meats below 40 degrees F or 4 degrees Centigrade. This prevents bacteria from multiplying quickly.  Bacteria multiplies quickly between 4 degrees C and 60 degrees C.


3.  Your meat has been packed tightly and kept cold for optimum freshness.  If possible place your meat on ice for the trip home, and refrigerate as soon as you get home.


4. Store meats below 40 degrees F or 4 degrees Centigrade.  This prevents bacteria from multiplying quickly.  Bacteria multiplies quickly between 4 degrees C and 60 degrees C.

4.  Cook or freeze your meat within 1 to 3 days.  If you're not using it within 2 days, freeze it upon your arrival. 


5.  Frozen meat can be kept for up to 4 months if raw.  If the meat is cooked first then frozen, it may be kept for up to 3 months.  The meat is actually good indefinitely but the flavor of the meat declines dramatically after 3 to 4 months of being frozen.  Make sure any frozen meat you won't be using within a few weeks is wrapped well in a sealable freezer bag to protect the quality and taste of the beef. You will find that with grass feed beef, which has been freshly processed, the unfrozen life of the meat is a little longer and you should not see a graying on ground beef; like you do in store bought feedlot meats.*Freezer burn comes from meat being defrosted and refrozen and if you have it on meat you can cut it away before using. 


6.  Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator. If you try to thaw your meat at room temperature, you risk letting harmful bacteria grow in the meat.


7.  Cook beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F or 71 degress C.  This will insure that you have killed any bacteria that may have been present in your meat. All meat looks different when it's cooked, so it's not enough to rely on color to tell you when the meat is done.  A meat thermometer is your best choice for that job.  


8.  If you store prepared food, do not leave them out longer than 2 hours after cooking. If stored at r40 degrees use the prepared meal within 3 to 4 days. Frozen in a container the prepared beef will last around 4 months. Always reheat the meal to 165 degrees F or 75 degrees C to destroy any bacteria.  


9.  Wash your hands with warm soapy water when handling raw beef.  If you have touched raw meat, wash your hands before touching any utensils or anything else in order to avoid possible bacterial contamination.


10.  Use a plastic cutting board for raw meats.

If you need to handle the beef on a cutting board, use a plastic one.  Plastic is easier to clean and disinfect than wooden cutting boards.


11. Wash all utensils and surfaces that have come in contact with your raw beef with warm soapy water.


Do not use utensils on your raw beef then use them on your cooked meat without first washing the utensils.  Your raw meat could become contaminated with bacteria from the raw meat.


12. Have separate platters for raw meat and cooked meat.  Don't place cooked meat on the same platters or serving dishes that you had raw meat on.  This is especially important when grilling hamburgers.  Always make sure you have a clean serving dish for your cooked beef.


By following the above tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting a foodborne illness from your meat.  Just remember to keep it cold, cook it in a reasonable time frame from date of purchase, and cook it to a 160 degree internal temperature.  Keep everything clean, and don't use the same utensils and dishes for raw and cooked meats.


Taken in part from Cooking Natural Grass Fed Beef, by Win Brookhouse

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