All frozen meat should be kept at 0℉(-18℃) or below. When the temperature is higher than 0℉(-18 ℃), the expected storage life will be reduced proportionally. Frozen meat can only stay above 0℉ (-18℃) in a very short time, which is absolutely necessary.
Beef and mutton have hard fat, which can resist the development of corruption to a certain extent. This is also the main reason why beef and mutton taste loss is slower than other frozen meat. Veal fat is not yet fully mature and is softer (unsaturated) than beef fat, so it spoils faster than beef fat. Most pork is softer in fat than beef or mutton, although there are exceptions. Generally speaking, pork fat rots about twice as fast as beef fat.
The storage life of ground beef, ground meat products and unprocessed pork sausages is shorter than that of large cut meat products, because air and bacteria are fully integrated during grinding, which accelerates spoilage or promotes the rapid growth of more microorganisms.
Sausages processed and blended also have a short storage life, because salts and other condiments accelerate the development of odor and rancidity. Pickling and smoking can provide some antioxidants to protect frozen ham and bacon to some extent. Bacon usually has a storage life of 4 to 6 months, while sausages with proper packaging will have a storage life of 2 to 4 months.
The term “cooked meat” refers to the liver, heart, cheek, kidney, brain, tongue, lips, stomach, tail, intestine, nose, ear, stomach, glands and head, etc. In the case of beef, these parts of meat together account for about 4% of the total live cattle, about 40 pounds (18 kilograms). If it’s pork, they make up about 6% of live pigs, about 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms). These products usually contain high moisture content and are very vulnerable to microbial contamination and spoilage, so careful cooling and storage are essential for the quality of cooked meat.
In order to obtain the best quality meat products and prevent excessive evaporation of water, careful operation of livestock in the cooling room is very important. In the required time, refrigeration equipment should be able to reduce the temperature to a reasonable range, and the relative humidity should always be guaranteed at 85% to 90%.
Strong evidence shows that in order to ensure the balance of the whole animal temperature and the completion of animal stiffness, meat intended to be frozen should be kept at 32-340℉ (0-1℃) temperature for a long enough time. Meat that needs to be frozen should be cut into the required pieces and trimmed to remove excess fat.
During freezing and storage, packaging materials should be selected to prevent moisture loss or product drying (frozen spots). Hypoxia penetration is a basic requirement for any packaging paper or material used for meat. Moreover, during freezing storage, products must be packaged tightly to prevent the formation of surface icing. Good packaging materials, appropriate packaging technology and appropriate sanitation facilities will contribute to prolonging the life of frozen storage.
Meat should be frozen to 0℉(-18℃) or below in the freezer. Higher freezing temperatures do not necessarily damage the texture of meat, but the color will be unattractive and storage life may be reduced.
The effect of freezing temperature on meat tenderness and color is noteworthy. Cherry red beef can be purchased and eaten. When beef is frozen above 0℉ (-18℃) the color becomes darker and darker when thawed. Beef frozen at – 120℉ (- 83℃) shows an unattractive bright pink color, but when thawed it turns into an attractive red color. Beef is in – 40 – 30℉ (- 40 – 34℃) when frozen or thawed will be the ideal color.
The different types and environments of cold storage will affect the speed of goods freezing. In addition, the composition and properties of the product, such as moisture content, raw materials, initial and final temperature, shape, density, surface and thermal conductivity, will affect the freezing rate.
Freezing at a speed of 1.5 to 2 inches (5 centimeters) per hour causes water in meat to form ice crystals. When meat is frozen at – 58℉ (- 50 ℃) at a speed of 1.55 inches (3.95 centimeters) per hour, muscle fibers are damaged.
Slow freezing can cause meat to form large ice crystals, destroy cell structure and lead to structural changes. Therefore, slow freezing is a common mistake. Although microorganisms do not grow at 0℉ (-18℃), they may increase in number at slow freezing and then multiply rapidly at thawing. Microorganisms may also cause chemical changes in meat, such as oxidation and odor.
Dropping loss rate is directly related to thawing rate. Compared with slow thawing, rapid thawing will lead to lower total water loss. There is a direct relationship between freezing and thawing interest rates, reducing drip loss. Quick-frozen meat should be thawed quickly, slow-frozen meat should be thawed slowly.
Meat products packaging
Before cooling or freezing, packed meat should be placed on a clean tray with at least 2 inches (5 centimeters) of space between each carton. Standardized net weight and cartons can help export shipment. General tray size recommended 48×40 (122×101 cm) size, Australia and Europe may use other sizes. Using solid gaskets, you can provide 2 inches (5 centimeters) of space between each layer.
Meat can be packed in various formations, like vacuum packaging, MAP modified atmosphere packaging, or VSP vacuum skin packaging. For industrial large scale meat production, vacuum packaging is the most utilized method.
Cold storage should be pre-tested to ensure temperature transmission and rapid freezing of products. A pallet should contain no more than 6 layers of cargo. It is recommended to use 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) carton/pallet or 60 pounds (27.2 kilograms) carton/pallet.