Bulk Buying Tips for Poultry
Bulk buying is not a new way of buying; however, due to the change in the food supply chain, it has become more popular. No matter if you are buying in bulk or just buying for one meal, food safety is always a priority. Here are a few tips from the NC State Extension Food Safety Team to make sure you are being food safe.
When handling poultry, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling. Always clean and sanitize surface after contact with raw foods. Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat or cooked foods. All poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
When transporting poultry, bring a secondary container or place cases of meat in an area of your vehicle that can be easily cleaned and sanitized in case of leaks. Another option is to lay out a towel or blanket that can be washed and place the cases of meat on the towel or blanket. If you are traveling a long distance to purchase meat, bring a cooler and ice packs to keep poultry at or below 41°F. Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after handling boxes.
Harmful bacteria grow fastest between 41°F and 135°F. Minimizing time in this range reduces the growth of these harmful bacteria. Raw poultry can be stored in a refrigerator at 41°F or below and will maintain quality for about 7 days. Cooked poultry stored at 41°F or below should be consumed within 7 days for safety. Frozen food can be safely stored indefinitely, but the quality will eventually decline. For best quality, use frozen poultry within the following time frames. Pieces should be used within 9 months, whole chicken should be used within 12 months, and cooked chicken that has been frozen should be used within 4 – 6 months.
Freeze poultry as soon as possible. Always work with clean hands, prep areas, utensils, and equipment. When freezing, you should choose containers or wraps appropriate for freezing. This could be freezer containers, freezer foil, freezer wrap, or freezer bags.
To prep for freezing: Ideally, first wrap meat in a layer of plastic wrap or freezer paper, then a layer of foil, then store in a freezer bag or plastic container. Multiple layers will help maintain quality and prevent freezer burn. Wrap tightly, pressing out as much air as possible. Consider freezing poultry in portions so that you only need to defrost what is immediately needed. Clean and sanitize equipment and surfaces after breaking down and packaging poultry.