Meat is a valuable foodstuff and, although it is produced to a very high safety standard, it is usually not "absolutely" free of microorganisms, except, for example, in sterilized containers such as cans or after irradiation (but this process is usually not permitted in Europe). Raw meat is a sensitive food and always contains small amounts of microorganisms on the surface. Especially in the summer months, high temperatures promote the multiplication of these germs and can pose a health risk. It is therefore particularly important to maintain the cold chain.
Meat contains high-quality protein and is an important supplier of iron, zinc and B vitamins. According to the recommendations of the Austrian food pyramid, a maximum of 3 portions of it should be consumed each week. We support you with our online tool"Food under the magnifying glass" to make an optimal choice of food.
Situation in Austria
Sensitive foods such as raw meat are regularly inspected as part of the official food inspection. In addition to routine testing, focus actions are also carried out time and again, e.g. raw, packaged, non-frozen meat is tested for hygiene status and shelf life. This means that the examination of the samples is designed to ensure that they are fit for human consumption until the end of the declared shelf life, with particular attention to microbiological contamination with spoilage germs.
Raw fresh meat is usually offered in retail stores packaged with a best-before or use-by date. The use-by date is intended for particularly perishable foods such as raw chicken and minced meat. The manufacturer is responsible for setting the best-before dates.
A total of 2,835 samples of meat and meat preparations were inspected in 2021, of which 348 (12.3%) were rejected. The most common reasons for complaint were labeling deficiencies and/or misleading information.
38 samples (1.3%) were objected to due to defective composition. In isolated cases, additives(nitrate, phosphate) were used contrary to the regulations. Predominantly microbial contamination due to hygiene deficiencies led to complaints in 51 cases (1.8%). 60 samples (2.1%) were unsuitable for human consumption, mainly due to microbial contamination and/or organoleptic deficiencies, and game products due to excessive levels of lead. Furthermore, meat products were also judged unsuitable for human consumption due to the detection of small amounts of listeria, and raw meat due to VTEC/STEC.
20 samples (0.7%) were harmful to health.
- In the case of raw animal foods, ensure short transport times or refrigeration after purchase.
- Correct storage in the household (refrigerator temperature!)
- Always store and prepare food that will not be reheated separately from other raw foods.
- Thorough heating. This reliably kills microorganisms.
- For plant foods: thorough washing and cleanliness to avoid transfer of bacteria from raw to ready-to-eat foods (such as lettuce)
- Grilling can produce harmful substances through the combustion process. Tips for proper grilling can be foundhere.
In addition to organoleptics (i.e. appearance, odor, taste and pH value) (i.e. appearance, odor, taste) and pH value, the samples are also tested microbiologically for spoilage agents and hygienically relevant germs such as aerobic mesophilic bacteria (total germ count), Enterobacteriaceae (these are relatively harmless intestinal and environmental inhabitants that serve as hygiene indicators for fresh meat, but which also include pathogens such as Salmonella ), Escherichia coli (under certain circumstances these can produce toxins = poisons, they are then referred to asEHEC/STEC/VTEC ), lactic acid bacteria, coagulase-positive staphylococci and pseudomonads.
Mandatory origin labeling for meat
With the Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 1337/2013, the declaration of the origin of fresh, chilled or frozen pork, sheep, goat and poultry meat became mandatory; the origin of beef must already be declared since the year 2000.
For more information on food labeling, see "Control from Field to Plate."
Information on food safety analytical services can be found here.