Spoiled meat is not always visible at first glance
Whether raw pork fat, roasted fillet of beef or schnitzel, consumers should check the shelf life and freshness before eating meat. Because meat is the ideal breeding ground for numerous bacteria, some of which can also be dangerous for humans. Experts see a high risk especially in antibiotic-resistant germs, which have only recently been detected in pig fat samples from Germany. If meat is consumed that is contaminated with so-called ESBL-forming bacteria, certain antibiotics can become ineffective.
Bacteria not visible on spoiled meat Even when an animal is slaughtered, the meat is contaminated with bacteria, many of which are harmless to humans. During the packaging, transport and storage, further germs can be added and multiply. If the meat has passed the expiry date for some time, it develops a sweet, pungent odor and mold sprouts on its surface. Then everyone can see that the meat no longer belongs on the table but in the garbage can. However, many bacteria remain invisible and can only be detected in a microbiological analysis. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) therefore advises consumers to only eat well-cooked meat.
Proper storage protects meat from spoilage In order to minimize the risk of pathogens on the meat before buying it, the BfR advises that you keep a clean and cooled shop counter. Because those who are already sloppy at the presentation of the goods will probably not take hygiene very seriously. Freezers and freezers should only be filled to the mark. All products that have also been sorted thaw and can easily spoil. Especially when it comes to minced meat, consumers are well advised to buy it fresh. In many butchers you can watch how it is turned through the meat grinder.
In order to prevent the meat from spoiling and to extend its shelf life, it should be stored as best as possible after shopping. In principle, meat should always be bought as short as possible before consumption and immediately placed in the refrigerator or freezer.
For the storage of meat, the BfR advises keeping the temperature in the refrigerator between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius, as a result of which the meat reaches its ideal storage temperature between 2 and 7 degrees. The reproduction of the typical meat bacteria takes place at temperatures between 18 and 30 degrees. Frozen meat has the longest shelf life. At minus 18 degrees, pork can be kept for between six and nine months and beef for nine to 18 months. After this time, the fat will spoil despite freezing and the meat will become rancid. The number of bacteria in the freezer decreases, but the bacterial spores survive and can multiply again after thawing.
As reported by the BfR, goulash and minced meat are less durable than muscle meat in one piece, since the latter is protected from the ingress of bacteria by a casing. The pathogens find an ideal breeding ground in shredded minced meat and can multiply unhindered. Minced meat should therefore be consumed after two days at the latest, while meat can be kept in good condition for up to two weeks.
Dry meat lasts longer than meat with a high water content. According to the BfR, the pH also plays an important role in durability. This indicates the hydrogen ion concentration of the meat and can only be determined by a special measurement. However, consumers can tell by color and consistency whether the meat is pale and soft and therefore watery. Depending on the type of packaging, e.g. airtight vacuum or loosely packed, bacterial cultures can develop differently.
Spoiled meat is frequently contaminated with ESBL-forming bacteria. Many consumers are not aware that meat products can be contaminated with bacteria before the expiry date. Because the bacteria that get from the animal skin or the splashing water onto the meat, for example during slaughter, are usually not visible and are also odorless and tasteless. Pseudomonads, enterobacteria, lactobacilli, micrococci, fecal streptococci and spore formers can be found on many meat products. Experts consider so-called ESBL-forming bacteria, which were detected in a study carried out on behalf of the Greens on pork fat samples from Germany, to be of particular concern. So far, it is still unclear whether there is a health risk from eating meat that is contaminated with ESBL-forming bacteria. ESBL-forming bacteria play an important role in the spread of antibiotic resistance and are therefore considered to be particularly problematic.
According to the "Meat Atlas" published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Le Monde Diplomatique and the German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND), which is intended to show the global context of meat production, the use of antibiotics in factory farming in Germany is a major one Problem. "In the global ranking, Germany is in one of the top places with an estimated approximately 170 milligrams of antibiotics used per kilo of meat produced. The result of this is an increase in antibiotic resistance. “It says in a statement. "Around 25,000 people die in Europe every year due to antibiotic resistance." In the United States, 48 million people would fall ill annually due to bacteria, which are mostly due to the consumption of animal products. Barbara Unmüßig, board member of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, calls for a "U-turn in agricultural policy". Specifically, this means "cutting subsidies for intensive meat production, preventing land take in the south, promoting smallholder agriculture and finally taking the human right to food seriously." Meanwhile, almost a third of the world's land area would be used for animal feed production.
As the BUND informs, every German eats an average of 1,094 animals in his life (four sheep, four cattle, 46 pigs, 12 geese, 37 ducks, 46 turkeys and 945 chickens). “With an annual meat consumption of around 60 kilograms, Germans eat twice as much meat as people in developing and emerging countries. In the poorest countries in the world, meat consumption is less than 10 kilograms a year, ”says the Nature Conservation Association. At the same time, German meat factories would produce around 17 percent more meat than is consumed. "Men also eat meat more often and die earlier." (sb)
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