Packaging and wrapping materials must be stored in clean, dry areas where they are not exposed to risk of contamination, in particular from microbiological contamination from raw meats and vegetables which may contain low does pathogens such as E.coli O157, packaging should be accessible for staff to use without the risk of contamination, for example in easy dispense containers.
Cling film is useful for stopping food drying out and protecting it against contamination (special breathing films are available for raw meats). Under certain conditions, however, it can speed up spoilage and mould growth by trapping moisture. It is important therefore that:
Because of the risk chemical migration, cling films should not be used where they could melt into food during heating, or for wrapping foods with a high fat content, unless manufacturer’s advice indicates their suitability for this purpose.
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Vacuum-packed food, and modified atmosphere packs, should be refrigerated, to prevent the multiplication of anaerobic bacteria. Immediately after opening a vacuum pack, the contents should be removed completely. Slightly darker colours of meat and the acid odour will disappear shortly after being removed.
Care must be taken to avoid puncturing packs, for example, with sharp bones or rough handling. Defectives seams commonly results in the loss of pack integrity. However, air-tight vacuum packaging may blow if the contents ferment. It is advisable to purchase branded vacuum packs from reputable suppliers to avoid receiving low-grade meat of dubious origin. Unmarked packs without ‘use-by’ dates should always be regarded with suspicion.
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