Deli Meat 102 - Safety Tips for Buying Deli Meat


  • Walton's Employee

    Deli Meat

    Deli Meat 102 - Safety Tips for Buying Deli Meat

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    What Is The Danger

    The big thing we are trying to avoid here is any meat tainted with the listeria bacterium, which can cause the infection listeriosis. While very rarely deadly listeriosis is a serious problem that has a variety of unpleasant effects on the human body. The quality control at the processing plant where your deli meat was made might be top notch, with a USDA inspector on site and watching the process to make sure the plant is producing safe food but what happens once it gets to the deli or grocery store? Keeping an eye on the conditions where they are slicing your food is a good idea.

    Simple Things To Look For

    Are the employees wearing gloves? Does the slicer look clean? What is the temperature in the meat case? When the meat is removed from the meat case, how long is it left out?

    How Long Is It Safe For?

    Once you have brought the meat home you should only keep it for 3-5 max, beyond that you run the risk of spoilage. When it was in its loaf form the inside was protected from any germs and it was kept, hopefully, at a controlled temperature. But now it has been sliced, exposing everything to possible bacteria so be safe and throw out older cold cuts. Another thing to look for is any slime on the surface of the meat, this is a good indication that the meat experienced some significant temperature fluctuation and is no longer good to eat, again just be safe and throw it out.

    Pre-Packaged Cold Cuts

    When buying prepackaged cold cuts keep an eye on how they are stored, are they properly refrigerated and is the packaging intact?

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  • P

    I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.

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  • E

    Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
    As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
    I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
    Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
    Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
    I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
    Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.

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  • K

    @jonathon

    Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??

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  • K

    @lamurscrappy

    Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.

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  • @Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.

    One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.

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