Bacteria Danger Zone
You have to assume all meat will have a degree of bacteria that in volume can cause food borne illness. The danger zone is any environment of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. That includes normal room temperatures. It’s particularly true outdoors, picnicking, camping and traveling. Bacteria can multiply at exponential rate, often doubling in as little as 20 minutes.
Freezing and Refrigerating Temperatures
Freezer temperatures should be set at least to 0 degrees. The refrigerator should be set at 35 degrees. At zero degrees any bacteria will go dormant meaning they will no multiply. At 35 degrees bacteria will multiply. That’s why you should never leave meat in the refrigerator for more that two days. Keep a thermometer in the freezer and refrigerator and check temperatures often.
Careful When Thawing Frozen Beef
When thawing frozen steaks or roasts, let them thaw in the refrigerator which should be set at about 35 degrees. Depending upon the size, complete thawing could take 1 to 3 days. Don’t thaw at room temperature. Meat will thaw from the outside-in. Therefore the exterior could multiply bacteria even while the inside is still frozen. Freezing causes bacteria to become dormant.
That being said, meat cooks better when it reaches room temperature. But never leave meat setting at room temperature for more than an hour or so. If room temperature exceeds 90 degrees F, never exceed one hour.
When Traveling or Camping
It is best to cook raw meat before leaving home. Cool them and transport them when cold. At temperatures above 40 degrees, bacteria can set-in and begin multiplying so always pack in a quality cooler packed with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Always pack the cooked meat in well-sealed plastic bags to prevent absorption of water. When reheating on a campfire stove, heat the meat thoroughly to help ensure the meat reaches a temperature that will kill bacteria.
How To Tell When A Steak Is Done