July 2004 Edition
Quality Source: Chill Out

A Sysco Refresher in Proper Poultry Procedure

Summer is in full swing and for many of us that means finding ways to keep cool and beat the heat. However, for the savvy foodservice operator, summer also means that it is the perfect time to review the industry's best practices for handling and storing food poultry.

At Sysco, our food safety philosophy follows one simple rule: Keep it Cold and Keep it Moving! After all, temperature control plays an important role in maximizing the shelf life of your Sysco Brand fresh chicken - and why Sysco encourages you to keep the 'cold chain' rolling for not only poultry, but for all your ground beef and other fresh meats, from receiving to storage to handling.

  • At the time of delivery cases should be inspected for damage - do not accept cases that have evidence of crushing or other serious problems.
  • Check poultry bags for seal integrity to guard against leakage. (A 2-3 percent leaker rate is considered within packaging equipment tolerance levels.)
  • Fresh chicken should be placed in the cooler immediately upon receipt. Do not ever store items in a non-refrigerated area.
  • Poultry should be kept in the coldest section of the cooler and on the lowest shelf, away from fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and other perishables. Don’t forget to follow the 'first in, first out' rule!
  • The optimum temperature for fresh poultry is 28°F - 34°F (-2°C - 1°C). Temperature should not exceed 40°F (4°C) in order to reduce the risk of spoilage.
  • Prevent cross-contamination by washing hands, surfaces and utensils before and after preparing fresh poultry. In addition, wear gloves while handling.
  • Above all, remember to keep it cold and keep it moving! ¨

Q & A on Q.A.

What causes leakers and how does Sysco help prevent them?

A leaker occurs when a sealed barrier bag receives a puncture to the bag, causing the juices to spill out over a long period of time. Leakers may also be caused by poor seal integrity, which creates the potential for fresh poultry juices to emerge from the seal area. As leakers negatively impact the shelf life of fresh poultry - and can result in a mess - Sysco suppliers monitor leakers through visual inspection and/or immersion in water to detect the presence of seal errors or small pinholes. If leakers are observed, corrective actions are taken to prevent spillage. If the barrier bags are found to be defective, the entire lot of poultry bags is sent back to the supplier - protecting you and your customers.