Handling Veal Safely
Improper handling of raw veal can set the stage for cross-contamination — the spread of bacteria from foods, hands, utensils and food preparation surfaces to another food. Here's how to stop it.
At the Store
The key to safe and delicious veal is buying it fresh (or frozen-fresh), free of preservatives and additives, then getting it home quickly.
- Buy your veal last. If your trip home takes longer than 30 minutes, bring a cooler to keep the meat cool.
- Separate raw meat from ready-to-eat foods in your shopping cart. Consider placing raw foods inside plastic bags in your shopping cart to keep the juices contained.
When You Get Home
- Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before and after handling raw veal.
- Sanitize kitchen countertops that come into contact with raw veal. One teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach per quart of clean water will sanitize surfaces. Leave the solution on the surface for about 10 minutes to be effective.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with soap and hot water after contact with raw veal.
- Refrigerate or freeze your veal as soon as possible after purchasing. Prevent raw veal juices from dripping onto other foods by placing raw foods in sealed containers or sealable plastic bags.
- Fresh, raw veal can be stored in its original wrap in the coldest part of the refrigerator according to the chart below.
- Use ground veal or stew meat within 1-2 days.
- Cook chops and roasts within 3-5 days.
- Freeze veal immediately if you don’t plan to cook it soon after purchase. Label each package with the date, name of cut and weight or number of servings. Practice the FIFO inventory system: first in, first out.
- Freeze veal in the original packaging wrapped with airtight freezer wrap or in an airtight freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. For best quality, frozen chops and roasts should be used within 4-6 months and ground or stew meat within 3-4 months.
- When thawing in the refrigerator, estimate 4-7 hours per pound for a large roast, 3-5 hours per pound for a small roast, and about 12 hours for 1” thick rib or shoulder chops.
- Ground veal defrosting time depends on the thickness of the package.
- To defrost veal in cold water, don’t remove packaging. Be sure the packaging is airtight or put it into a leakproof bag. Submerge the veal in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw.
- When thawing in cold water or the microwave, immediately cook the veal. Never thaw on the counter or at room temperature.
Before You Cook: S-E-P-A-R-A-T-E
- Rinse veal and pat dry with paper towels before cooking; cutting boards and knives must be washed in hot soapy water after using and hands must be washed before and after handling.
- If possible, use one cutting board for raw veal and another for fresh fruits and vegetables. If two cutting boards aren't available, prepare fruits and vegetables first, and put them safely out of the way. Wash the cutting board thoroughly with soap and hot water. Then, prepare the raw veal. Follow by washing the cutting board again.
- Don't reuse marinades on cooked foods unless you boil them first. Marinades used on raw meat can contain harmful bacteria.
- Never taste uncooked marinade or sauce that was used to marinate raw meat.
- Place cooked food on a clean plate for serving. If cooked food is placed on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat, bacteria from the raw food could contaminate the cooked food.
- Cook veal completely to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160°F (ground veal) or 145°F (other cuts) as measured with a food thermometer. Never cook veal partially and then store it to be finished later, since this promotes bacterial growth.