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Because meat is a highly perishable food item, extra care and attention are needed to ensure that a high quality, wholesome product is served.
Unwholesomeness and spoilage of meat are caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. This contamination generally occurs during cutting and processing. These bacteria require three conditions for growth:
low acidity (near neutral pH) level within the meat;
an available supply of water or other moisture, such as meat juices;
a warm temperature -- generally between 45° and 127°F.
Therefore, to prevent spoilage and the possibility of food borne illness, precautions must be taken to control these three factors.
The safety measures taken vary depending on the form or type of meat product. Five basic types of meat exist, each of which require special storage techniques. They are fresh, cooked, cured, canned and frozen meat.