Meat Safety is nothing but to control the growth of bacteria. They are everywhere: on the floor, on walls, in the air, on our hands and all they need to grow is moisture, nutrients, and warm temperature. Given ideal conditions, bacteria can double up in numbers every 20 minutes.
At 32° F (0° C) bacteria needs as much as 38 hours to divide in two. That also means that if our piece of meat had a certain amount of bacteria on its surface, after 38 hours of lying in a refrigerator the number of bacteria in the same piece of meat will double. If we move this meat from the refrigerator to a room having a temperature of 80° F (26.5° C) the bacteria will double up every hour (12 times faster). At 90° F (32° C) they will be dividing every 30 minutes.
When bacteria grow, they increase in numbers, not in size. Let’s see how fast bacteria grow at an ideal temperature :
|Number of bacteria||Elapsed time|
|160||1 hour 20 min|
|320||1 hour 40 min|
|1280||2 hours 20 min|
|2560||2 hours 40 min|
|10,240||3 hrs 20 min|
|20,480||3 hrs 40 min|
|81,920||4 hrs 20 min|
|163,840||4 hrs 40 min|
|655,360||5 hrs 20 min|
|1,310,720||5 hrs 40 min|
When the meat is stored at room temperature, it gives bacteria the opportunity to multiply; room temperature (between 50 and 140°F / 10 and 60°C) is an ideal condition for bacteria to grow.
Storing and processing the freshest meat at low temperatures is the strongest weapon that we have to fight bacteria. Adding salt, nitrite, increasing meat’s acidity, eliminating moisture, vacuum packing, and others are additional safety measures, However, the single most important factor is using the lowest practical temperatures for processing and storing meat.
To make your meat free from bacteria, you must cook at 160° F (71° C) temperature.