In the United States, there are several foodborne illnesses linked to meat, causing dozens of outbreaks that send thousands of people to the hospital each year. Common culprits such as E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter are not only present in living animals, but processing environments could also encourage the growth of these harmful pathogens.
Since bacteria originates from the fecal material of the animal, the carcass may become contaminated during the slaughter process. To reduce the number of pathogens, meat processing facilities must have a HACCP plan in place to address consumer hazards throughout production. To verify the removal of contamination, inspection process personnel ensure the carcass is free of fecal material, milk, ingesta, urine, bile, hair, dirt, or foreign matter.
Following slaughter, the product should be exposed to room temperatures for the shortest time possible and stored at temperatures below 40 °F. Bacteria takes time to adjust their physiology to the environment, so the longer meat is exposed to warm temperature the more hazardous it becomes.
Ideally, temperatures of processing rooms should not exceed 50 °F. However, if the ambient temperature ranges between 60 °F and 70 °F, it’s advised the product should not be kept out from more than 2 hours depending on its size. Smaller cuts of meat warm faster than larger cuts, so as the surface temperature of the meat increases, it creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Whether the product is being prepared for raw distribution or is fully cooked before being shipped out, HACCP requires that the product must constantly be monitored to ensure it’s safe for consumer consumption. Data loggers can be used to easily measure and record the temperature and humidity of meat throughout the entire production process from cooking and cooling, to shipping and storage.
Meat processors rely on MadgeTech data loggers to accurately and efficiently validate that all critical limits were properly executed according to the HACCP plan. MadgeTech’s free software also allows processors to easy create reports as proof of compliance required by state and government agencies.
To learn more about HACCP compliance for meat processing operations, click here.