Frozen meat [German version]

Table of contents

General:
Product information
Packaging
Transport
  Container transport
  Cargo securing


Risk factors and loss prevention:
Temperature Odor
Humidity/Moisture Contamination
Ventilation Mechanical influences
Biotic activity Toxicity / Hazards to health
Gases Shrinkage/Shortage
Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion Insect infestation / Diseases




Product information

Product name

German Fleisch, gefroren, Gefrierfleisch
English Frozen meat
French Viande congelée
Spanish Carne congelada
CN/HS number * 02ff.


(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)



Product description

Meat consists of skeletal muscle tissue, including fatty, connective and bone tissue, originating from slaughtered, skinned and gutted animals. Frequently transported types of meat are: cattle (quarters of beef), pigs (sides of pork), calves, sheep and lambs (whole or portioned).

Freezing very largely suppresses the activity of microorganisms and enzymes, so ensuring longer preservation than for chilled meat. Meat on the carcass, such as sides of pork, quarters of beef etc., is rapidly frozen in a freezing tunnel in which the meat is exposed to a blast of cold air and sometimes completely frozen in less than 24 hours.


Quality / Duration of storage

Meat is graded into 4 quality classes:

1st quality: e.g. rib roast (beef), rib and ham (pork), leg (veal), saddle and leg (lamb)
2nd quality: e.g. central breast (beef), chine and breast (pork), saddle and chine (veal), shoulder (lamb)
3rd quality: e.g. brisket and chine (beef), belly (pork), neck and belly (veal), neck and breast (lamb)
4th quality: e.g. skirt (beef), head (pork), head (veal)


The frozen meat must be properly deep frozen on loading. Meat which is not at the required core temperature will spoil during a long voyage. Checks must accordingly be carried out during loading. Properly deep frozen meat sounds like wood when struck. A wooden mallet may thus be used for performing many checks. The core temperature should be measured for each batch by drilling a hole into the middle of the piece of meat and measuring the temperature with a meat thermometer.

Occasionally, meat is supplied which, after freezing, has been exposed to higher temperatures. Such incorrect storage results in depreciation. Such interim thawing can be recognized by the protective coverings' having frozen onto the meat. Distortion of the pieces of meat and dark muscle tissue color are further indications of incorrect handling.

Due to an increased risk of decomposition, frozen meat must not exhibit the slightest trace of fresh blood.

Photo, meat

Figure 1


Frozen meat with spots of mold must also not be loaded.

The duration of storage of various types of frozen meat depends upon temperature and relative humidity.

At temperatures of -62°C, the "eutectic point" (EP) is reached Only once the EP is reached is all the water in the cells of the product completely frozen and all microbial decomposition brought to a standstill, i.e. at temperatures of below -62°C it is possible to transport or store foodstuffs for an "infinite" period without loss of quality.


Intended use

Meat is a versatile source of nutrition, being boiled, fried/roasted, salted, smoked or processed into sausage.


Countries of origin

This Table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.

Europe Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, England
Africa  
Asia China
America Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, USA
Australia New Zealand, Australia



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Packaging

Frozen meat is transported as quarters of beef, sides of pork or whole calf, sheep and lamb carcasses and is usually packaged as follows:
Quarters of beef: in plastic bag and stockinette (protective covering made, for example, from linen).
Sides of pork: in stockinette
Sheep, whole carcass: in plastic bag and stockinette
Boned portions: wrapped in film and then packaged in cartons


The protective coverings must be clean and dry. Blood-stained and frozen down coverings are a sure sign of noncompliance with the necessary cold chain (interim thawing).

Packaging sizes are so selected that the dimensions of the individual area modules or area module multiples are conformed to the conventional pallet sizes (800x1200 mm and 1000x1200 mm) and cargo units may thus be produced.


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Transport

Symbols

Symbol, general cargo

General cargo
Symbol, temperature-controlled

Temperature-controlled



Means of transport

Ship, truck, railroad, aircraft


Container transport

Refrigerated containers should be used. Ultra-low temperature refrigerated containers are capable of transporting goods at a temperature of -60°C.


Cargo handling

It is essential to maintain the freezing chain during cargo handling as this is the only way to maintain the storage life and quality of the meat.

In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, since quality may be diminished.

Because of the cargo's sensitivity to mechanical stresses, it must be handled with appropriate care (breakage).


Stowage factor

Approx. 2.55 - 3.36 m3/t (sides of pork) [1]
2.55 - 3.40 m3/t (carcasses) [14]
3.40 - 3.96 m3/t (Chinese carcasses) [14]
2.26 - 2.55 m3/t (cartons) [14]


Stowage space requirements

Cool, dry, well ventilated


Segregation

Fiber rope, thin fiber nets


Cargo securing

In order to ensure safe transport, the packages must be stowed and secured in the means of transport in such a manner that they cannot slip or shift during transport. They must not be damaged by other articles or items of cargo.


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Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature

Frozen meat requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

A written cooling order must be obtained from the consignor before loading is begun. This order must always be complied with during the entire transport chain.

The following Table merely constitutes a rough estimate of appropriate temperature ranges. Temperatures may deviate from these values, depending on the particular transport conditions.

Designation Temperature range Source
Travel temperature (favorable temperature range)    
Poultry, gutted -30 - -18°C [1]
Mutton -23 - -18°C [1]
Pork -21 - -18°C  
Beef -18°C  
Veal -23 - -18°C [1]
Lamb -23 - -18°C [1]


Holds/containers must be appropriately precooled prior to loading. They should be at a temperature of -18°C.

Frozen meat should have a core temperature of -18°C so that the activity of microorganisms comes to a standstill and enzymatic degradation processes are largely suppressed. Temperature measurements must be performed and recorded at regular intervals.

The travel temperature must be maintained constantly as variations in temperature may result in recrystallization, resulting in growth of the ice crystals. Variations in temperature are associated with continual slight thawing and refreezing. Since small ice crystals have a higher vapor pressure than larger ones, they will melt more rapidly when the temperature rises, while on cooling the same effect means that the water is preferentially deposited as ice on the larger ice crystals. This consequently brings about growth of the ice crystals, as a result of which the rapidly frozen meat increasingly takes on the appearance of slowly frozen meat on storage. The large ice crystals rupture the cell walls, as a result of which, on thawing, cell fluids (drip) escape, giving rise to a distinct reduction in utility value.

It is essential to maintain the deep-freeze chain. Thawing damage occurs in the event of extended interruption of freezing, followed by warming and refreezing of the product. "Snow" forms within the plastic bags, especially around leaky container doors.

A dark red to black coloration due to transient thawing processes is irreversible, the color change being retained on subsequent refreezing.

Temperatures lower than specified are not generally harmful, but they should be maintained throughout all the transport operations as there is otherwise a risk of recrystallization.

Photo, meat

Figure 2


At temperatures of -62°C, the "eutectic point" (EP) is reached Only once the EP is reached is all the water in the cells of the product completely frozen and all microbial decomposition brought to a standstill, i.e. at temperatures of below -62°C it is possible to transport or store foodstuffs for an "infinite" period without loss of quality.



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RF Humidity/Moisture

Frozen meat requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity approx. 95% [1]
Water content 49 - 75% [1]
Maximum equilibrium moisture content approx. 90% [1]


Higher relative humidity may be permitted for frozen goods because the low temperatures mean that microbial growth is no longer possible.

Relative humidity in the hold/container should be kept at 95% in order to prevent the surface of the meat from drying out. Sublimation proceeds constantly at the surface of frozen meat, i.e. the moisture bound in solid form passes directly into the gaseous state. This drying process is an unwanted change because the shrinkage in mass impairs surface appearance. In extreme cases, surface drying may result in freezer burn (see Figure 3), an effect which may be counteracted by plastic film packaging.

Photo, meat

Figure 3


If moisture is observed on the meat, relative humidity should be maintained at 75% for short periods (mold growth threshold). Wet spots on transiently thawed frozen meat may subsequently be recognized from the "tide mark" they leave on drying. Care should thus be taken especially during loading and unloading in rain, fog and snow as there is a risk of discoloration and distortion of the meat and of surface spoilage due to microorganisms.


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RF Ventilation

Frozen meat requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

Recommended ventilation conditions: circulating air, 6 circulations/hour without supply of fresh air in order to ensure uniform cooling of all parts of the cargo.


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RF Biotic activity

Frozen meat displays 3rd order biotic activity.

It belongs to the class of goods in which respiration processes are suspended, but in which biochemical, microbial and other decomposition processes, which must be taken into account, still proceed.

At temperatures of -62°C, the "eutectic point" (EP) is reached Only once the EP is reached is all the water in the cells of the product completely frozen and all microbial decomposition brought to a standstill, i.e. at temperatures of below -62°C it is possible to transport or store foodstuffs for an "infinite" period without loss of quality.


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RF Gases

No risk.


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RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion

No risk.

Oil content:

Fat content of lean pork approx. 20%
Fat content of fatty pork approx. 40%
Fat content of lean beef approx. 6%
Fat content of fatty beef approx. 30%



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RF Odor

Active behavior Frozen meat has a very slight, unpleasant odor.
Passive behavior Frozen meat (especially pork) is highly odor-sensitive and very rapidly absorbs foreign odors. Even freshly painted areas may be rejected due to the odor of paint. Meats from different species of animals should not be stowed together, as their characteristic odors may cause odor tainting.



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RF Contamination

Active behavior Frozen meat does not cause contamination.
Passive behavior Frozen meat is extremely sensitive to contamination. Holds/containers must therefore be clean and in a thoroughly hygienic condition. It is recommended that fitness for loading of the hold/container be confirmed by an inspector.



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RF Mechanical influences

Dropping or impact results in breakage. Frozen meat may even splinter like wood. It is also sensitive to other mechanical stresses, such as slipping due to poor stowage. Chafing of solidly frozen meat may result in damage to film packaging.

Meat packaged in cartons must be secured in the hold or container in such a way that it cannot move during transport. In the case of container transport, it is also important for the goods to be secured in the door area so that they cannot fall out of the container when the doors are opened.


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RF Toxicity / Hazards to health

No risk.


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RF Shrinkage/Shortage

A weight loss of 0.5 - 1% occurs on flash freezing of unpackaged quarters of beef, sides of pork and lambs. A further weight loss of approx. 1 - 2% may occur during transport.

Transporting frozen meat in cartons increases the risk of theft.


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RF Insect infestation / Diseases

If the specified temperature and humidity conditions are maintained, microorganisms constitute no risk as their activity comes to a standstill at approx. -10°C.

As a basic principle, a veterinary certificate is required for transport operations.


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