The Importance of Safe and Segregated Meat Prep Procedures
“For any spot handling raw meat, you need to design for that product to flow safely, quickly and easily from receiving to refrigeration to processing to cooking or retail sale…[and] must make every effort to segregate proteins and keep raw product from coming into contact with produce or other items.”
– Eric Schmitt, Rapids Vice President
An important part of any kitchen design that handles meat is making sure that your setup prevents cross-contamination of meats and other products. In larger kitchens, this means you should have an entirely separate area for meat preparation (including sinks!). In a smaller kitchen where this isn’t feasible, an acceptable solution is to create a schedule, designating a specific time to do the meat prep, followed by a complete sanitization of the area.
Depending on the type of business, these requirements may mean that companies have to get creative with how they work with meat.
One such establishment is Lowry Hill Meats, a butcher shop in Minneapolis that wants to get their customers more involved in the meat preparation process. To achieve this, they put their meat on display – they have a giant walk-in cooler with viewing windows where meat is stored and ground up. The cutting station is also in full view, with a bar that sits in front where customers can watch the process.
To keep this unique approach from causing cross-contamination, the Rapids team and Lowry Hill Meats knew they had to isolate these areas from the rest of the kitchen. A separate cooler was installed for non-meat items, and a floor-to-ceiling wall was added between the meat cutting area and other kitchen prep areas. Two separate sinks were also added to the design.
Key Questions to Consider About Your Meat Prep Area Design
While there are many variables to take into account when it comes to the layout of your meat storage and preparation areas, Schmitt points out some of the most crucial points:
- Is there a clear path from the delivery trucks to the freezer or cooler?
- What processing steps do you take inside the cooler?
- Do you have all of the necessary equipment and tools for your staff to safely transport and efficiently handle raw meats?
- Is your prep area of sufficient size to allow for more than just cutting and trimming? Can it also be used for packaging and storing supplies?
- Does the drainage near your prep area make proper cleaning and sanitizing simple?
Learn more about incorporating safe meat preparation procedures and areas into your kitchen with the Foodservice Equipment and Supplies article Functional by Design: Meat Prep.