Take care handling raw meat and meat products
Raw meat and products containing raw meat can give you food poisoning. Especially if the meat is undercooked or not handled properly. This is because germs like Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Yersinia can live on it. These can spread to different foods if you're not careful.
How to avoid cross-contamination
Raw meat and any products containing uncooked meat, like burgers, sausages, saveloys, cheerios, chicken nuggets, and dumplings, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Read our tips on how you can reduce the risk of food poisoning when handling and cooking meat or meat products.
Buying and transporting raw meat
- Separate raw meat from other foods in your shopping trolley or basket.
- If the meat isn't in leakproof packaging, put it in plastic bags to stop juices from dripping onto other foods.
- When you are transporting raw meat, keep it cool in a chilly bin or bag, especially during summer. Use ice packs on hot days and if you won’t be getting home for a while. Also keep meat as far away from car or bus windows as possible.
Storing meat at home
- Don’t leave raw meat out at room temperature. Always store it in the fridge or freezer.
- Store raw meat away from any cooked food or food that doesn’t get cooked (like raw fruit, vegetables, and salad).
- The best place to store raw meat is at the bottom of your fridge. This stops any leaking juices (which may contain harmful bacteria) from dripping onto other foods.
- Storing raw meat in containers will catch any juices and save unnecessary cleaning up. Make sure containers are cleaned after use.
- When you marinate meat, keep it in the fridge in a sealed container.
Preparing raw meat
- Ensure meat juices do not drip onto other foods.
- Completely defrost frozen meat before cooking to make sure it cooks evenly. Don’t defrost it at room temperature on the benchtop – prepare ahead and defrost it overnight in your fridge. If you forget or are short on time, use the defrost setting on your microwave.
- Do not wash meat (especially chicken meat) before cooking. Washing can create puddles and sprays of raw meat juice that spread bacteria around the kitchen.
- Ideally, use separate chopping boards, utensils, and serving plates for raw meat. If you only have one board or knife, make sure to clean it with hot, soapy water after using it for meat.
- Wash your hands with soap and hot water immediately after handling raw meat to prevent any cross-contamination with other surfaces or foods.
Cooking meat and meat products
- Usually when meat is available in whole pieces, like fillets or cuts, bacteria only sits on the surface. As soon as it is minced, bacteria gets transferred throughout the product. Therefore, minced meat needs to be cooked thoroughly.
- Intact steaks only need surface cooking (searing or flame grilling).
- All other meat and meat products need to be cooked through. This includes blade-tenderized steaks (often pre-marinated), poultry meat, and all minced meat products (like beef, pork, chicken, or lamb burgers, and sausages and dumplings).
- Cook meat all the way through, until juices run clear.
- If you can, use a meat thermometer to check it’s cooked through. Insert it into the middle of the thickest part of the meat. It should read an internal temperature of 75 degrees Celsius for 30 seconds after cooking, 70 degrees Celsius after 3 minutes, or 65 degrees Celsius after 15 minutes.
- Convenience foods that contain minced meat might look cooked, but the meat in the centre could still be undercooked. In particular, be mindful with frozen products like chicken nuggets or dumplings.
- Never place cooked meat or meat products onto the same dish or board that held raw meat.
- Do not serve cooked meat with the same utensils used for raw meat.
- Heat leftover marinade to boiling before pouring it onto cooked meat and meat products.
- Reheat leftovers thoroughly – until steaming hot (over 75 degrees Celsius) – and do not reheat more than once.
- If in doubt, cook the meat or meat products for longer or throw it out.
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about handling raw meat and meat products safely, email firstname.lastname@example.org