Although we cannot see it with the naked eye, meat is a food that contains a very high amount of microorganisms. Therefore, care must be taken during preparation and storage, to reduce the risk of contamination and typical symptoms of poisoning, such as DiarrheaAnd HeadacheNausea, vomiting, malaise.
Nutrition professor Hugo Rangel Fernandez warns that “a possible increase in the microbial load, if not handled properly, can deteriorate the process, that is, meat spoils more easily, because it is a very perishable food.” At Faculdade Uninassau (PA), food quality and safety specialist and doctoral student in food sciences at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro).
The biggest risk that red meat It can bring to health, according to experts, is specifically related to bacterial contamination, such as salmonella And Clostridium botulinumresponsible for the development of diseases. “Depending on the amount and type of microorganisms, a person can develop neurological problems and may die,” the Uninassau Professor of Nutrition reports.
Next, review the precautions to avoid contamination risks while preparing and storing these foods.
Do not thaw meat at room temperature.
This is a very common mistake, whether you are in a hurry to speed up the preparation process, or simply out of habit. However, when defrosting meat at room temperature, a favorable area is created for the reproduction of microorganisms, as well as causing a loss of flavor and nutrients, that is, product quality.
The correct way to thaw food is at refrigeration temperature, that is, take it out of the freezer and take it out to the refrigerator, so that the process takes place gradually. Usually, it will be ready to prepare after 8 to 12 hours in this case.
Do not melt in the microwave
This is another wrong way to defrost. “In this case, the error is due specifically to sensory properties, such as changes in flavor, texture, color, and tenderness of the meat. So, this kind of thawing can compromise the properties that we value as consumers,” says Fernandez.
However, it is worth noting that defrosting meat in the microwave does not increase the risk of contamination.
Avoid washing meat
The water that comes out of the tap also contains microorganisms that can add to the natural load already present in the meat, speeding up the deterioration process and endangering health.
To remove any residue or even clean the meat, it is recommended to use suitable utensils, such as a clean knife. Do not wash meat with tap or hot water in order to kill bacteria. “Furthermore, pouring hot water to defrost is in the same setting as the microwave, which causes the same problems,” explains Fernandez.
The expert points out that the idea of washing meat with hot water to get rid of bacteria is also invalid because the natural cooking process (cooking, roasting or frying) already has this function. And during this preparation, many of them are eliminated.
Do not use the same cutting board (cutting board) for meat and vegetables
The right thing is to have an individual cutting board, because, as mentioned earlier, meat contains many microorganisms, and when we use a utensil to prepare it and reuse it for other foods, there can be what experts call cross-contamination – when passing through the microbial load from the food etc.
The problem with this cross-contamination is that, in the case of vegetables, for example, not all of them undergo a cooking process, many of them are consumed in Natura. “By the process of cooking meat, you can kill some of these microorganisms, but in the case of vegetables, no,” Fernandez says. “And then you could have health problems like infection or poisoning,” he adds.
Jillian Alonso, a nutritionist and physician in public health from the University of the South Pacific (University of São Paulo), adds that the ideal is to have an individual cutting board, but if that’s not possible, the key advice is to always wash the utensil with plenty of soap and water before reuse it. The recommendation extends to knives and any other tools for handling meat.
Freeze small pieces
Some people defrost a large piece of meat, but use only part of it, and the rest goes back to the freezer.
“Firstly, this is a mistake because the process of thawing and re-freezing will cause the meat to lose a lot of fluid, and thus a change in its juiciness, texture and flavor. In addition, and most seriously, this can lead to an increased risk of contamination from the reproduction of microorganisms”, stresses Carla Brasil, a nutritionist, a physician in food science and technology from the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM) and a professor of the nutrition course at the same university.
Therefore, when storing meat in the freezer, it is better to divide it into smaller and separate portions, because the larger the piece of meat, the longer the process of freezing inside the food. Also, storing in pots or containers without a lid is wrong, as it changes the texture of the meat and can leave its smell.
Do not leave barbecue meat uncovered.
Not everyone who grills eats meat right after it comes off the grill or skewer. Food is often exposed in an open container or even on top of a cutting board.
“Meat at room temperature, even after roasting, runs the risk of contamination, because it loses temperature and creates favorable conditions for microorganisms to contaminate this food,” explains Fernandez.
Store ready-to-eat meat in the refrigerator, not the oven.
If meat is left behind after a meal, you should not store it in the oven, microwave, or other unrefrigerated container for later consumption. “After consumption, you should store it in the refrigerator. In fact, for any perishable food, the recommendation is for it to remain at room temperature for a maximum of 30 minutes,” the UFSM professor knows.
Meat in the fridge has an expiration date
Another common mistake is to leave meat in the refrigerator for several days, as the cooling temperature does not maintain its integrity, and this causes it to spoil quickly. “If you are not going to use it within three days, it is recommended that you store it in the freezer, which is usually at an average temperature of -18°C,” says Brasil, a professor at UFSM.
This does not depend on the type of cut but in the case of ground meat care must be taken. “It’s going through a much bigger process of manipulation,” Fernandez says. “If the mill is not sterilized properly, the risk of contamination increases,” he adds.
In addition, the food quality and safety specialist warns that the human body itself can contaminate the meat during handling. “Our body has microorganisms that are part of our microorganisms, so when we handle meat the wrong way, we can be a vehicle for contamination,” he says.
Finally, the nutrition expert and professor at UFSM highlights that these precautions are appropriate for all types of meat and cuts, not just red meat. “Meat in general, milk and egg They are protein foods and can easily be contaminated with bacteria,” emphasizes the specialist.
“Fish and chicken meat are often aged much shorter than beef due to their properties the basic muscle, but the recommendations apply to all meat,” says Brasil.
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