Keep the Quality
Fresh beef is perishable and, like all perishable food, must be stored and handled properly to avoid spoilage and foodborne illness. The following guidelines will help you keep the quality of the beef you buy at its best.
Keep it Cold
When shopping, buy beef just before checking out. If it will take longer than thirty minutes to get home, keep it cold in a cooler until you can refrigerate it. When you get home, immediately place beef in the meat compartment or the coldest part of your refrigerator. If the beef you purchased is already wrapped in transparent film, no additional wrapping is needed. However, you may want to consider placing it in a plastic bag to prevent possible leakage.
Freeze for Longer Storage
Immediately freeze any beef you do not plan to use within a few days. Store it at 0°F or colder. Also, label each package with the date and contents for future identification.
Beef can be frozen in its original transparent packaging for up to two weeks. For longer storage, prevent freezer burn by re-wrapping beef in freezer paper, plastic freezer bags or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Press out as much air as possible before sealing.
|Beef Type||Refrigerator (35°F to 40°F)||Freezer (0°F or colder)|
|Steaks and Roasts||3 to 4 days||6 to 12 months|
|Ground Beef||1 to 2 days||3 to 4 months|
|Cooked Beef (leftovers)||3 to 4 days||2 to 3 months|
Utensils, cutting boards, platters - all are important tools in preparing your favorite beef dishes. Yet how you handle these items can make a difference in your safety. Follow the smart tips below to avoid any mealtime messes.
- As a general rule, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
- Thaw meat in the refrigerator or microwave (at reduced power setting). NEVER defrost meat on the kitchen counter.
- Carefully wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water or a solution of bleach and water. Some cutting boards can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
- Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before preparing food.
- Keep raw meat from coming into contact with other raw foods like fresh vegetables and salad ingredients during preparation.
- Use separate platters for raw and cooked foods.
- Wash your hands and all utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water after contact with raw meat.
- If possible, use a separate cutting board for the preparation of raw meat, poultry and fish.
- Do not wait for leftovers to cool down. Store them in small, shallow, covered containers within two hours of cooking.
- Reheat carryout meals and leftovers to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F and stir to cook evenly.
For more information, visit the Food Safety Chapter in the Cooking School.