An essential part of owning and managing a meat processing facility is understanding the specific procedures associated with the meat manufacturing and distribution process. Even the smallest establishments producing cooked, ready-to-eat beef and poultry products are required to follow compliance guidelines initiated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
Part of the process of creating safe, ready-to-eat beef and poultry products includes performing cooling or hot-holding cycles for each product, acknowledging temperature stabilization standards and operational parameters. With recent changes to the FSIS Appendix A guidelines, users have a clear understanding of products needing cooling or hot-holding, specific temperature ranges to keep them at, and how to evaluate them. By following certain procedures, businesses are able to establish safe and consistent systems that will ultimately help them pass inspections and maintain compliance.
One of the most critical factors to avoid during meat processing is the growth of bacteria. An effective method that limits the growth of bacteria is the process of stabilization. According to the FSIS Compliance Guideline, the term stabilization is defined as: “the process of preventing or limiting the growth of spore-forming bacteria capable of producing toxins either in the product or in the human intestine after consumption. Stabilization may include cooling and hot-holding as well as other processes that render the product shelf stable or safe at room temperatures. While cooling and hot-holding are vital techniques used in stabilization, monitoring the temperature thresholds are especially critical.
To prevent or reduce deterioration and bacterial growth, it is necessary to reduce the temperature of the meat. Cooling of the meat slows and nearly stops the development of surface micro-organisms. According to the updated Appendix A guidelines, during cooling of fully and partially heat-treated products, the maximum internal temperature should not remain between 130 °F and 80 °F for more than 1.5 hours nor between 80 °F and 40 °F for more than 5 hours.
Hot-holding is the process of holding meat and poultry products at hot temperatures prior to distribution. According to the updated Appendix A guidelines, products can be held for up to 4 hours if kept above 140 °F. It is recommended that processors should not hold a product above 140 °F unless they have created precise temperature control over every portion of the product.
If the meat is left at a temperature longer than the recommended time, bacteria such as clostridia will emerge producing toxins that can be unsafe for human consumption. While cooking meat and poultry products (at the correct temperatures) will destroy the cells of bacteria such as salmonella, clostridia and other vegetative cells are more likely to grow if the meat or poultry is not cooled rapidly. This is a particularly common issue with products that are cooked in large batches, for example, large processing facilities selling to supermarkets that experience recalls. This is why it is vital for processors to maintain and log temperatures over given amounts of time based on the phase of the cooling or hot-holding cycles.
With MadgeTech’s line of data loggers specifically made for meat and poultry processing, monitoring strict temperature thresholds can be completed effortlessly. Our comprehensive line of data loggers are ideal for oven temperature mapping, internal meat temperature monitoring, and meat cooling validation. Each data logger purchase comes with a free software download where users can easily view reports. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us today at (603)-456-2011.