Meat Handling Safety

Food Safety

Meat is highly perishable. Proper handling and storage measures not only help ensure the safety of meat and poultry, but also help maintain wholesomeness and quality.

Follow these simple safety measures to help protect you and your family from food-borne illness. 

Safe Shopping

  • Select meat last, and bag separately in plastic bags. 
  • Make sure the "sell by" date has not expired on fresh, raw meats. 
  • Select meat packages that are cold to the touch and tightly wrapped. Frozen products should be frozen solid. 
  • Choose raw ground beef that is bright red in color. Packaging should be intact and not showing signs of leakage.

Safe Transportation and Storage

  • Wash hands thoroughly, immediately before and after handling raw meats. 
  • Use separate cutting boards, platters and utensils for cooked and uncooked meat. 
  • Wash work surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after handling raw meat. 
  • Thaw frozen meats at cool refrigerator temperatures in a plastic bag or on a dish, or in the microwave, and never on the counter. 
  • Marinate meats in the refrigerator. If used as a sauce, boil marinade for at least one minute before serving. 
  • Cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160°F, until the center is no longer pink. 
  • Keep cooked foods containing ground meats hot at 140°F or higher while serving, and refrigerate as quickly as possible after serving.

Storing Ground Beef

Time and Temperature Guidelines

Fresh ground beefBelow 40°F and as close to 28°F as possible1 to 3 days
Frozen ground beef0°F or belowUp to 90 days
Refrigerated cooked ground beefBelow 40°F2 to 3 days
Frozen cooked ground beef0°F or belowUp to 90 days