Aside from ensuring short transport time, it’s also crucial to ensure proper refrigeration and storage of meats, fish and poultry products. This is to effectively slow down biological and chemical processes that result in the products’ deterioration, spoilage and loss of quality. Ultimately, this is about protecting the consumers’ health.
Proper refrigeration of meats, fish and poultry for transport
Because these products have a short shelf life and are vulnerable to spoilage, it’s essential to ensure that cold chain management is done properly. From the farm to the store (and down to the consumer’s plate), meat products should be kept at safe temperatures and stored in sanitary conditions.
But first, it’s crucial that contamination is minimised including during handling and packaging. At the start of contamination, bacteria and other microorganisms seem to become inactive. But after that period of inactivity or dormancy, there will be an exponential microbial growth (after the microbes adapt to the new environmental conditions).
The rate of microbial growth depends on temperature, air motion and relative humidity. Other factors are pH level, the product’s chemical structure and presence of competing organisms (e.g. fighting for the same food and space). These risk factors can be effectively controlled by minimising contamination and ensuring clean surfaces especially during handling and preparation.
As mentioned earlier, temperature affects the rate of microbial growth. A temperature level of 4℃ and lower is a safe range. A small increase can suddenly speed up the growth rate of microorganisms (and hence drastically decrease the shelf life of food). For example, it’s estimated that a 3℃ rise in temperature can double the growth rate of some microorganisms. As a result, tight temperature control during storage and transport (especially for distant markets) is crucial in maintaining the food’s quality and safety.
Aside from tight temperature control, immediate freezing or refrigeration is also crucial. For example, meat carcasses should be cooled down as fast as possible. It also applies to fish where they are preserved as soon as they get caught. In poultry, immediate chilling is also applied.
There are several other considerations in ensuring proper transport of meat products. If you sell meat or use it to prepare food for your customers, it’s essential to ensure that the products are refrigerated and handled in a proper way before they have reached your business. This way, you can better protect your customers and ensure they will be delighted by your products.