Bacteria and Spoilage
• The bacteria that can contaminate food are always present in the environment. Proper handling, good personal and kitchen hygiene and appropriate cooking are your protections against food poisoning.
• Bacteria, extremely small organisms that cannot be seen by the naked eye, are everywhere. Some bacteria grow on meat and produce chemicals that we recognise as spoilage.
• Some bacteria are harmful to human health. These harmful bacteria are called pathogens. Pathogens on meat can cause an infection in the body, like gastroenteritis, or they can produce toxins that, when eaten, make people sick by giving them food poisoning.
• You cannot always rely on how meat looks or smells. This is why it is important to keep meat at low temperatures and handle it hygienically.
Don't give bacteria time to grow
When given the moist, warm food they like, food poisoning bacteria grow very quickly. So keep perishable foods cold and use as soon as possible.
• Take extra care with hygiene when handling and storing mince and finely sliced or diced meats.
• Remember the more surface area of meat that is exposed, the greater the possibility of bacterial contamination.
• Minced meat and hamburger patties should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 70° C; they should not be served undercooked, rare or pink.
Meat is a perishable food requiring high standards of hygiene.
Before and after handling meat:
• Wash equipment thoroughly in hot water.
• Wash hands with soap and water.
Working with meat:
• Keep all work surfaces, utensils and cutting boards clean.
• Always use a clean, sharp knife for preparing cuts.
Information supplied by the New Zealand Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau.