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Ground Beef Safety & Handling

Fire River Farms' rigorous standards of excellence extend from the pastures that nourish our cattle to our industry-leading cold supply chain solutions.

  • September 03, 2019

Cold Chain Management 

Sysco is committed to the safety of our Fire River Farms’ ground beef by starting with our uncompromised cold chain management process. 

To minimize bacteria levels, ground beef must be stored at 40°F degrees or below, and it doesn’t freeze until it reaches 27°F degrees. Keeping ground beef at these temperatures can be a challenge, but Sysco has implemented a quality assurance system that ensures our ground beef stays frozen from source to delivery.    

Storing Ground Beef

When your ground beef is delivered, don’t leave it out. USDA says to refrigerate or freeze ground beef as soon as possible after delivery to preserve freshness and to keep the meat from reaching the “danger zone,” temperatures between 40°F and 140°F degrees, where bacteria can rapidly multiply. Also, make sure to keep ground beef in the coldest part of the refrigeration unit instead of near the door of the cooler where temperatures can vary. 

During the transport of ground beef, Sysco adheres to strict protocols including but not limited to pre-chilled trailers, time-temperature recorders and chilled loading docks to ensure our customer’s products are always safe and never reach the “danger zone.”   

Ground Meat Safety Rules for Restaurant Staff

Ground beef is touched a lot during food preparation, such as forming burger patties or making meatballs, and can lead to cross-contamination if proper handling and safety techniques are not used.   

Proper handling of ground beef is essential to preventing foodborne illness. Bacteria is impossible to see and has no odor so it’s important to follow these guidelines to keep food safe: 

  • Clean and wash hands often. Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling ground beef to make sure bacteria doesn’t spread.  
  • Wash utensils and surfaces with soap and hot water that have been in contact with raw meat.  According to the USDA, utensils and surfaces can be sanitized with a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.  
  • Keep ready-to-eat foods and raw ground meat separate to keep from cross-contaminating. 
  • Don’t reuse any raw ground meat packaging.
  • Don’t put cooked burger patties on the same dish that may have held raw ground meat unless it’s thoroughly washed.  
  • To kill bacteria, cook ground beef to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F as measured with a food thermometer. 

Cooking Ground Beef to the Right Temperature

The USDA recommends cooking ground beef to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F as measured by a food thermometer before removing from the heat. Partial cooking of ground beef to save time on future food preparation is not safe. By not cooking thoroughly, bacteria in the meat can multiply to the point that additional cooking cannot destroy them.   


Sysco protects our customers by ensuring that all Fire River Farms products stay frozen and are kept safely refrigerated so our customers can focus on what they do best – delivering great food.