Transporting Meat and Poultry

May 30, 2017

Meat and poultry products must be refrigerated or frozen after processing and before shipment to inhibit spoilage and growth of pathogens. During transportation and storage, the challenge is to maintain proper refrigeration temperatures.

In the United States, most food is transported by truck. However, meat, poultry, and egg products may be transferred to and from other modes of transportation during shipment and held at intermediate warehouses as well as at transfer or handling facilities, such as airports, break-bulk terminals, and rail sidings. Because transportation and storage are vital links in the farm-to-table food chain, effective control measures are essential at each point in the food distribution chain to prevent unintentional contamination.

Meat should be transported in a correct manner, to make sure no contamination takes place nor bacteria can grow on the product. There are three types of meat products produced as a result of slaughter:

  • fresh meat products
  • processed meat products
  • frozen meat products

The transportation of each of these products has different guidelines. Frozen meat products for example can be transported all over the world. Fresh meat products have a limited shelf life and therefore have to be in the supermarket within two days. Fresh meat products are therefore not transported long distances typically. Processed meat products can either be fresh or frozen. With this being said, trucks are therefore the most common transportation method, especially concerning fresh meats.

Fresh meat products are transported with trucks from the slaughterhouse to the retailers and the super market. If a product is processed, the meat is transported from the slaughterhouse to the meat processing manufacturer and then to retailers and super markets.

To guarantee a healthy fresh product, the time of transportation from producer to consumer must be as short as possible. Not only time is important to guarantee a fresh product.

The following actions are further taken to ensure food safety during the transportation of fresh meat products:

  • Before transportation poultry meat should be and kept at temperatures below 4˚C or 40˚F.
  • The meat and meat products should be packaged and checked for leakers, temperature, packaging etc. before transportation.
  • Meat is put in packages, boxes or crates when transported.
  • Human contact should be limited with the products.

When transporting the meat once it has been taken home from the grocery store, depending on the travel time make sure the product is frozen. This will ensure its freshness for longer and will keep the product from reaching a degree above 40˚ F. Wrap the product in newspaper as an insulator, place the meat in a cooler, wrap the cooler in blanket covering all cracks to keep the product as cold as possible and preventing spoilage and bacterial growth.


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