Handling and Storage of Australian Lamb
For best quality, Australian Lamb should be:
- Kept refrigerated or frozen
- Thawed in the refrigerator for 24 hours
- Kept separate from other foods and raw products
As with all meats, minimize the amount of time lamb is left out of the refrigerator prior to cooking. Meat may spoil because of the natural growth of bacteria if it is mishandled or cooked improperly. In addition, working surfaces such as cutting boards and utensils should be washed in hot soapy water after touching any meat. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.
For Australian Lamb in a Vacuum Bag
Vacuum packaging keeps lamb fresh for longer periods if properly refrigerated. The cut of lamb is placed inside the bag, the air is removed to create a vacuum, then the bag is sealed to maintain the vacuum.
Store chilled lamb in a vacuum bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to two weeks (check used-by date at purchase), or freeze if storing for a longer period.
It is normal to detect a slight odor immediately after first opening the vacuum bag. The odor should dissipate within minutes. Once the bag is opened, the lamb color will change from a purple/red to a pinkish/red.
For Fresh Australian Lamb in a Plastic Bag or Retail Tray Pack (not vacuum packed)
Fresh lamb may be kept in the refrigerator for up to two or three days prior to cooking (check use-by date at purchase). Store lamb in the coldest part of the refrigerator, keeping it as dry as possible. Keep lamb covered (ideally in the original wrapping) to prevent moisture loss.
While we highly recommend you eat your selected cut of Australian Lamb at the time of purchase, it can be stored frozen.
Recommended storage times relate to taste/flavor quality more than food safety. After a certain period of time, frozen food starts to dry out, so the smaller the item of food, the faster the effect. That’s why, for example, it’s recommended to freeze minced lamb for up to 3 months, and roasts up to 6 months. Beyond this time, the meat will be safe to eat but quite dry. Optimize freezer life and protect lamb against freezer burn by sealing it tightly in plastic freezer wrap and removing as much air as possible.
Re-freezing defrosted meat is not recommended unless it is cooked first, for a number of reasons:
- The quality suffers each time frozen meat is defrosted and refrozen. Freezing creates ice crystals within the structure of the meat, which contains a high percentage of water. These ice crystals rupture the fiber which causes the meat to bleed when defrosted. If repeated, the texture of the meat will be dry.
- There can also be microbial risk as a result of refreezing meat without cooking it first.