Yes, it is acceptable to store offal such as plucks, hearts, kidneys, etc., in the freezer for long periods (months) for future use, however over time there will be a loss of quality1. Generally, meat intended for human consumption is recommended to be stored for 2-6 months2. As offal for dissection purposes is not for human consumption, it can be stored for longer and we recommend only storing for up to 12 months to maintain the quality of the items.
The freezer can be located in a preparation room and it is good practice to ensure that the preparation room is not accessible by students. There is no requirement to have the freezer locked, but it is recommended that appropriate signage is placed on the freezer “No foodstuffs for human consumption to be stored in this freezer” to avoid contamination of food for human consumption3.
It is also recommended that signage, such as “Do not turn off power” should be placed near the power point (GPO) to prevent accidental shutting off of the power. Cleaners, relevant staff and contractors should be aware that the GPO should never be turned off. In the case of power outage, relevant contact details should be available to arrange alternate storage to avoid the loss of frozen materials.
- Prior to storage, the offal should be
- good quality i.e. fresh and passed relevant health inspections
- wrapped individually or in class sets to enable easy defrosting
- wrapped with air-tight packaging to avoid freezer burn,
- The freezer should:
- operate at -180C. This temperature can be monitored by using an external freezer thermometer available from electronics stores, kitchen and department stores.
- be suitably located to enable ventilation and avoid being located in hot places
- be stocked to allow frozen air to effectively penetrate all stock and stock should be rotated to ensure that older items are used first.
- be defrosted regularly to prevent ice build-up. Ensure there is an alternate freezer to relocate the offal prior to defrosting
References and further reading:
1 ‘Freezer storage times’. Food Safety Information Council website. http://foodsafety.asn.au/freezer-storage-times/ (Accessed September 2017)
2 Australian Health Food. The big chill. Storage times for the refrigerator and freezer. http://www.healthyfoodguide.com.au/articles/2013/march/big-chill (accessed September 2017)
3 Standards Australia. 2005. AS/NZS 2243 Safety in Laboratories, Part 1: 2005 Planning and Operational Aspects. Sydney, Australia.
CSIRO. Handling food in the home. https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Health/Food-safety/Food-handling (accessed September 2017)