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Is fresh meat better than frozen?

The Future of Meat Retail...

When we opened our first retail shop on the high street, it did seem quite unusual to be committed to selling everything frozen. However, the benefits, economically to its safety, made it clear this was the best way forwards.

There are a variety of fundamental points that make freezing meat better than keeping it fresh. Maintaining zero food waste, preserving its supreme quality and keeping it safe from bacteria, are just a few advantages of frozen over fresh meat.

Eliminating Food Waste

Food waste is a major problem in the UK, for household, retail and trade alike. However, freezing can eliminate this issue. One of the best factors of freezing, is that we are extending a food that typically has a shelf life of 1-2 weeks before it spoils, and perfectly preserving its best form for 1 year or more. This gives more than enough breathing space to ensure that everything is sold, and nothing is wasted.

The farmers we source from put great time and energy into farming their animals in a way that benefits the environment around them, and it would be a great disrespect to their hard work to be creating food waste from the meat. To produce in a true regenerative manner, we must become waste free to reach true sustainability within the UK.

Steaks and sausages can be thawed in just a few hours, and larger joints can be ready for roasting the next day. Just a small trade-off for customers to work with to completely rid of meat-related food waste.

Preserving the very best Quality

How we freeze our meat actually makes a difference, freezing a product slowly means that the ice crystals present in the muscle tissue will grow larger, effecting the texture of the meat negatively once defrosted and cooked. We always ensure our meat is frozen quickly to keep the ice crystals small, which keeps the meat exactly as the day we froze it, furthermore to this we ensure it is frozen immediately after receiving it back from the butchery.

When you are ready to eat the meat, and begin to dethaw your cut of choice, the flavour and texture resurrects back to the condition it was first frozen, ready for you to taste our high welfare and pasture raised meats exactly as the day it came to us, with day one freshness!

The risks of meat

Once meat is frozen below -18 degrees Celsius, all bacterial growth is completely eliminated, this is safer than chilled fresh meat, where after cutting, harmful bacteria can be doubling every few hours. This is why chilled meats safe shelf life is often only up to one week, whereas frozen will stay safe indefinitely with only a drop in quality once frozen beyond a year.

However, it is still key that fresh meat is frozen on the first day after cutting, freezing fresh meat toward the end of its shelf life will halt all bacterial growth, and will kill many of the existing harmful bacteria. But by this point any bacteria will have been producing waste toxins, which is the substance that can make you feel ill. This is why cooking spoiled meat will still leave you at risk of illness, despite it killing the bacteria, as it won't get rid of the toxins.

Bacteria and fungi are lovers of warm and damp areas, naturally outdoors this is places such as rotting matter for plants and animals both alike. Generally, temperature up to 25'C are favoured and when still humid at this temperature, the multiplication rate of bacterium and fungi growth is huge.

fungus growing on mouldy trunk

Selling meat online via courier

For transportation, we find sending meat via courier frozen is the safest and most effective way of transportation. With parcels leaving us at -18 degrees Celsius with insulative packaging, it takes a lot longer for this temperature to warm to an above an unsafe chilled temperature, often it won't be until 72 hours until is completely defrosts. Even when meat arrives to the customer partially defrosted, as far as safety is concerned the temperature will still be very cold, it can always be popped back in the freezer.

On the other hand, chilled meat posted leaving at 2'C only has to rise a few degrees before it's at risk of being at unsafe temperatures where bacteria will rapidly grow. Although as the temperature difference inside and outside the parcel is less, the rise in temperature will be slower.

Offering seasonal produce all year round

Finally, one of the most useful benefits of freezing, is our ability to buy in bulk, store and then sell something that is typically a seasonal product, but all year round. This is the case for something like our pasture raised chickens, where there is a gap in production during mid-winter. This is because chicks struggle to be outside during very cold temperatures, and this is more unnatural and against our ethos of producing with nature. This way, a lot of our stock is produced within spring to autumn where you see chickens on better pastures, and that quality is well preserved to be enjoyed even on the darkest January evenings.

However other meats we sell such as pasture raised pork, matter less when they are butchered as they often live for up to a year and will see all the seasons. This gives them long lives for better welfare and a more supreme quality product. However, it is still preferred we source more during the warmer months if we can, as the pig's diet will highest on their natural food sources which help produce the true flavour of what pork should be.

Overall, the only real benefit we can see with fresh meat, is its convenience, there is no way to avoid that it can take several hours to defrost a joint of meat before you can think about cooking it. Of course, some products such as sausages can just be cooked directly from frozen on a lower light in the oven, but cooking from frozen is not something that is widely accepted by general consumers, at least not yet anyway.


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