Are you aware that ground meat poses a greater threat of contamination than whole cuts of meat (i.e. roast, steak). That’s because, any bacteria like E. coli or salmonella on the surface of the meat can spread throughout more easily when the meat is ground. To avoid illness, the key is to cook and store meat properly.
Storing Uncooked Meat:
- Refrigerate below 40 degrees on a plate on the bottom shelf to prevent juices dripping onto other food. You can refrigerate only up to two days.
- Freeze up to four months. Longer is okay, but the texture and flavor could change. Defrost in the refrigerator or in the microwave and never thaw at room temperature on the counter.
- Wash hands well before and after handling raw meat.
- Avoid cross contamination. You have to designate a cutting board strictly for raw meat, seafood and poultry and never use it for any other food.
- Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters with hot soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat.
- A meat thermometer is a must have in the kitchen as it is the most fail-safe way to determine doneness.
- Cook ground beef, veal lamb or pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
- Refrigerate cooked food promptly and ensure leftovers are left at room temperature no longer than 2 hours, and they should be eaten within 2 to 3 days.