Meat is a highly perishable food item, so extra care and special attention are needed to make sure that you keep meat fresh so that it will remain a high-quality, wholesome product. Spoilage and unwholesomeness of meat are caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. There are two different groups of bacteria that affect refrigerated meat.

Pathogenic bacteria make us sick, whilst spoilage bacteria make our food go bad and make our refrigerators smell. By smell, sight, and taste, you cannot identify whether meat contains pathogenic bacteria, unlike meat contaminated with spoilage bacteria.

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In a refrigerated state, spoilage bacteria thrive. The fact that all food in a refrigerator eventually spoils proves this. Spoiled food doesn't make you sick, it might taste bad but unless it contains pathogenic bacteria, your digestive system will be fine. Unrefrigerated meat, if left out on the counter for a few hours, might smell and look okay, but maybe loaded with pathogenic bacteria. This contamination usually happens during cutting and processing.

These bacteria require certain conditions to grow; a very low acidity level (near neutral pH) within the meat; a supply of water or other moisture, for example, meat juices, or a warm temperature, usually somewhere between 45° and 127°F.

There are five basic meat types, each one requiring special storage techniques. They are cooked, frozen, fresh, cured, and canned meat.