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Improving Quality Assurance In The Meat And Seafood Cold Chain

According to the CDC approximately one in six Americans is sickened each year by food borne illnesses. That’s nearly 48 million preventable illnesses. The best prevention, according to the FDA, is to properly treat or cook the food and then to chill it to temperatures that prevent the growth of pathogen and the formation of toxins.

Although the optimum temperatures differ, meats and seafoods all must maintain exact temperatures throughout shipping to ensure quality, palatability, and safety through the journey from origination to the ultimate customer. For these products, it’s not enough to ensure they are frozen or refrigerated. Here, the exact temperature matters. For example, fresh beef and scallops should be maintained at 0° to 1°C, while cured farm-style bacon is stable at 16°-18°C.

Optimal frozen temperatures vary, too, depending upon the product. Frozen fish should be kept between -29° and -23°C, while frozen lamb and pork may be as warm as -18°C. However, most cold storage retailers and shippers specify that frozen meat be stored at -24°C.Excursions outside those parameters may affect the texture, flavor, and safety of these products.