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Meat Transportation: An Effortless Choice For That Prime Cut

March 10, 2023
 By USA Refrigerated Freight
Meat Transportation: An Effortless Choice For That Prime Cut
Last Modified: June 2, 2023
One of the most critical resources for humans is meat production and distribution. However, it is not as "cut and dry" as one might think.

Meat transportation plays a critical role in the global food supply chain. The movement of meat from farm to plate is a complex logistical operation. Adherence to strict regulations and standards are in place to ensure food safety and quality.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulate temperatures, equipment, and handling of refrigerated meat. These regulations are in place to prevent the growth and spread of contaminants that can prove harmful to human life and any hazardous effects on the environment.

Want to know how meat is transported safely while maintaining its quality, the following information will leverage some insight into this crucial service for shipping perishables.

Meat Transportation: Fast and Fresh Every Time

Meat transportation in refrigerated logistics is the process of transporting meat products in a temperature controlled environment to keep them at the proper temperature for safe consumption.

This is especially important for perishable items such as:

  1. Poultry
  2. Seafood
  3. Dairy products
  4. Raw or frozen meats 

By keeping these items at an ideal temperature, shippers ensure that all perishables are safe for consumption while extending their shelf-life. A shipper can benefit from a refrigerated third party logistics (3PL) or meat cold chain by having access to specialized expertise and services.

A 3PL or cold chain also provides the shipper with a single point of contact, which makes managing shipments and real-time tracking more efficient. Additionally, there are other services such as labeling and packaging, which can further enhance the product’s quality and safety.

meat transportation

The Importance of Refrigerated Logistics in Meat Transportation

Refrigerated logistics plays an essential role in the transportation of meat because it helps to preserve the quality and safety of the product. Temperature controls are maintained to keep meat within a safe range, avoiding spoilage and other issues.

Market Growth for Refrigerated Trucks Transporting Meat

YearOperational Refrigerated Trucks

The market growth has shown no signs of slowing down. While at the same time expanding the number of operational trucks by five thousand annually.

Refrigerated logistics are vital for the safe conveyance of meat, as it helps to slow the growth of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can cause contamination. Also, refrigerated logistics provide an environment that  preserves both flavor and color.

By keeping temperatures at optimal levels, it prevents the oxidation of the proteins and fats. This reduces the chances of the meat coming into contact with other products or pollutants that could cause contamination.

If you need to ship fruits and vegetables instead of meat, then check out our article on produce shipping costs.

Temperatures for meat being transported will vary depending on the type of meat: 

  • Raw meats such as poultry, beef, and pork need to be transported at temperatures between 32°F to 40°F.
  • Processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs, and deli meats can be transported at slightly higher temperatures between 40°F to 45°F.

While raw meats have a predefined climate range of 40 degrees or less, meats that have undergone any preservation will alter the recommended temperature ranges. Temperatures may also vary based on regulations set by different countries or states. 

It’s critical to adhere to any federal, state, and local regulations, as they are in place to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. Always check with a regulatory body or a refrigerated cargo specialist if you have questions surrounding regulations on climate controls.

reefer inventory

Shipping Frozen Meat With A 3PL: Don’t Make a Mis-Steak!

Shipping frozen meat is a complicated process that requires strict attention to both detail and planning. Working with a refrigerated third-party logistics (3PL) partner is the best option for the movement of these time and temperature sensitive goods.

The process of shipping frozen meat with a refrigerated 3PL involves the following steps:

  1. Products must be properly packaged and labeled for transport. This includes using the appropriate materials and labels to indicate the type of meat and the expiration date. 
  2. Frozen meat must be loaded into a refrigerated dry van trailer or comparable equipment. 
  3. The temperature must be consistent with any federal, state, or local requirements. 
  4. The truck must be inspected before departure to ensure that safety regulations are met. 
  5. Temperature range must be monitored at all times to ensure food safety.

Finally, the frozen meat must be unloaded at the delivery destination and stored in a cold storage facility. Cold storage facilities are regularly inspected to ensure that they meet the necessary safety regulations.

Meat Transportation Regulations

Meat transportation regulations are primarily governed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). These regulations are in place to ensure that all meat is transported in a safe and sanitary manner

Carriers must follow a detailed set of guidelines when transporting meat, including:

  • Keeping the temperature of the meat at 40°F or below. This is to prevent the growth of bacteria, which can cause food-borne illnesses.
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces that come in contact with the meat, including the interior of the vehicle, loading and unloading equipment, and any packaging material used to contain the meat.
  • Store the meat away from hazardous materials, such as chemicals and toxic waste. 
  • Provide adequate ventilation in the vehicle to reduce the risk of spoilage.
  • Monitor the temperature of the meat during transport to ensure that it remains stable .
  • Load and unload the meat in a way that prevents cross contamination. 
  • Maintain accurate records of all meat shipments.
  • Follow all federal, state, and local regulations for the storage and transportation of meat.

These regulations are in place to help protect public health and ensure the safety of all meat products. Mandatory adherence to these regulations are required if you wish to transport fresh meat domestically.

How to Pack Frozen Meat for Shipping

Proper packing of perishables like meat can help to reduce the risk of spoilage and potential contamination which lead to food-borne illnesses. Carefully applied packaging will also help in reducing the risk of damage to the product during shipping.

Whenever meat is being transported, it is important to pack it properly to ensure it arrives in a safe and sanitary condition. 

The following steps should be taken to ensure the meat is packed correctly

  1. Carefully place the meat in an approved, food-grade container.
  2. The container should be sealed securely to prevent any contamination.
  3. Load the container on a pallet for easy handling and transportation.
  4. Surround the container in plastic wrap to protect it from moisture and other contaminants.
  5. Wrap the container with a layer of insulation material to keep the temperature of the meat regulated. 
  6. Secure the container with straps or shrink wrap and place it into a cardboard box or other container.
  7. Seal the outer container with tape to prevent any moisture from getting in.
  8. Mark the container as “refrigerated” or “frozen”, depending on the type of meat being shipped.

Packing frozen meat properly is a critical component for the transportation of meat. Following guidelines and regulations will help to ensure your goods are kept at a safe temperature, and that it arrives at its destination in excellent condition.

What Equipment is Required for Transporting Meat?

The equipment required for shipping meat and maintaining a refrigerated 3PL meat cold chain involves the use of a variety of materials. Specialized equipment is necessary for storing and safely transporting meat across the country.

Some examples of the equipment used in the transportation of meat safely are:

  • Insulated shipping containers: These containers are used to provide a barrier between the meat product and its environment. These containers are made of high-grade material and lined with a thick layer of insulation.
  • Refrigerated trucks: These trucks are equipped with temperature controls, which are designed to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the entire transportation process. 
  • Temperature monitoring systems: These systems are used to monitor the temperature of the meat while making sure that the temperature remains constant during shipping. 
  • Temperature controlled storage facilities: These facilities are equipped with temperature controlled compartments, refrigeration units, temperature sensors, and air vents.

By utilizing a refrigerated 3PL, you can establish a meat cold chain. This system also allows for the efficient and cost-effective transportation of meat products to your customers. At the same time, they’re safeguarding your goods, keeping them safe and fresh during transportation, storage, and distribution.

refrigerated trucks refrigerated dry van

Required Temperature For Shipping Meat

The USDA temperature requirements will vary depending on the type of meat being transported, but they all aim to maintain the internal temperature of the meat below a certain threshold to prevent bacterial growth.

USDA temperature requirements for the shipment of meat are:

  • Fresh meat (beef, pork, lamb, veal, and goat meat) temperatures should be below 40°F.
  • Frozen meat (beef, pork, lamb, veal, and goat meat) temperatures should be maintained at or below 0°F.
  • Fresh poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, and goose) internal temperatures should be below 45°F.
  • Fish and seafood should be kept at a temperature at or below 28°F.

If proper temperatures during transportation are not maintained, contamination and bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria can occur. These bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C).

This temperature range is known as the “danger zone” for food safety. If transported perishable food like meat becomes contaminated, it will then pose a significant risk to the consumers’ health.

These climate requirements are based on scientific research and best practices in food safety, and they are regularly updated to reflect new findings and emerging risks. Proper handling, packaging, and storage are also important factors in the safe handling and transference of meat.

Can A Meat Cold Chain Work For You?

If you are part of the meat industry, such as a producer, distributor, or retailer, a cold chain can quickly become a critical component for ensuring the safety and quality of your meat products during transportation. 

Four essential factors that can dictate whether or not a cold chain will work for you are: 

  • The nature of your business.
  • The scale of your operations.
  • The regulatory requirements in your jurisdiction.
  • The available capital to cover the cost of a cold chain.

Four benefits of a meat cold chain are:

  1. Food Safety: One of the primary benefits of a meat cold chain is that it helps to ensure the safety of the meat by preventing harmful bacteria and other foodborne illnesses.
  2. Improved Quality: Cold storage helps maintain the desired quality of the meat by slowing down the degradation process.
  3. Extended Shelf Life: Meat stored at the correct temperatures guarantees freshness for longer periods of time.
  4. Increased Efficiency: Keeping meat products at a safe and consistent temperature throughout the distribution process ensures there is less waste and spoilage, which can save time, money, and resources.

A meat cold chain is a no-brainer for businesses involved in the meat industry. The ability to deliver the best in food safety and quality is where a meat cold chain shines. Although it requires significant investment, careful planning, and adherence to regulatory requirements, it pays off in the long-term.

USA Refrigerated Freight is Ready to ‘Meat’ Your Expectations

USA Refrigerated Freight deploys the very best in cold storage, shipping, and distribution network solutions that will ensure that your meats are handled with the greatest of care. Our experienced professionals are standing by to facilitate your meat transportation needs.

Our vast network will ensure that nobody ever asks, “where’s the beef?” Our industry professionals will provide you with the assistance you require anytime or anywhere. 
You can request a quote here or feel free to call us at (866)-849-4923 or click today to consult with a specialist and get started today.

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