startAbout UsFor ConsumersFor FoodserviceFor Educators

Give examples of standards for accepting and rejecting food shipments.

All food that enters a food establishment must be inspected prior to placement in the appropriate storage unit.  Inspection criteria usually is based on temperature of the food, condition of the package, and sensory characteristics of the food.  The following guidelines are commonly used to determine if food should be accepted.                            

MEAT -- includes beef, pork, mutton, lamb, and goat

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F or colder
  • Package -- intact, clean, and includes USDA inspection stamp
  • Sensory characteristics -- The color of beef should be bright, cherry red and vacuum packaged beef will appear purple; lamb should be light red; pork should have light pink meat. The texture of meat should be firm.  There should be no odor.

POULTRY -- includes chicken, turkey, duck, goose, guinea, and any migratory waterfowl, game bird, such as pheasant, partridge, quail, grouse, or guinea, or pigeon or squab

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F or colder
  • Package -- intact, clean, and includes USDA inspection stamp
  • Sensory characteristics -- No discoloration, such as the presence of green or purple around the neck.  The texture should be firm and there should be no odor. 

FISH -- includes all fish except for shellfish and crustacea

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F or colder
  • Package -- intact and clean.  If packed in ice the fish must be surrounded by crushed, self-draining ice
  • Sensory characteristics -- Bright red gills, firm flesh, and a mild ocean or seaweed smell.  The eyes should appear bright, clear, and full

SHELLFISH -- includes live or shucked clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops

  • Temperature -- 45 degrees F or colder
  • Package -- intact, clean, and if unshucked must include the shellstock identification tag
  • Sensory characteristics -- Mild ocean or seaweed smell.  The shells should be closed and unbroken.

CRUSTACEA -- includes shrimp, crab, and lobster

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F or colder unless alive
  •  Package -- intact, clean
  • Sensory characteristics -- Mild ocean or seaweed smell.  The shells of lobsters and crabs should be hard and heavy.  If the tail of a lobster does not curl when picked up, it is a sign that it is dead and so should be rejected.

EGGS AND EGG PRODUCTS -- includes shell eggs, pasteurized liquid whole eggs, and egg substitute.  This does not include dry egg whites.

  • Temperature-- 45 degrees F or colder
  •  Package -- intact, clean, and includes the USDA inspection stamp
  • Sensory characteristics -- No odor and the shells are clean and unbroken 

MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS -- includes milk, butter, buttermilk, yogurt, cheese

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F or colder
  • Package -- intact, clean, and is labeled "pasteurized."
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odor or curdling

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES -- includes all fresh produce that is either whole or cut.  This does not includes produce that has been processed, such as canned or dried

  • Temperature -- varies.  Produce Facts, a series of fact sheets published by the University of California Postharvest Technology Research and Information Center, contains information about optimum temperature other relevant information.  Select Produce Facts to access this information.
  • Package -- clean and free of pests
  • Sensory characteristics -- no molding, cuts, mushiness, discoloration, wilting, or undesirable odors

REFRIGERATED PROCESSED FOODS THAT ARE POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F or colder
  • Package -- intact, clean, and dated with use by date
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odors

FROZEN PROCESSED FOODS THAT ARE POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS -- includes food such as burritos, gravy, ice cream

  • Temperature -- 0 degrees F or colder; ice cream at 6-10 degrees F
  • Package -- intact, clean, and dated with use by date
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odors

VACCUM PACKAGED FOODS -- includes modified atmosphere packaged foods and sous vide packaged food

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F unless specified otherwise by the manufacturer
  • Package -- intact, clean, and dated with use by date
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odors or colors

CANNED FOODS

  • Temperature -- room temperature
  • Package -- clean, not swollen or severely dented, not leaks, label intact
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odors upon opening

DRY FOODS -- includes all shelf-stable dried foods

  • Temperature -- room temperature
  • Package -- intact, clean, labeling visible, and no sign of pest damage
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odors, molding, or discoloration upon opening

ULTRA-HIGH TEMPERATURE (UHT) PASTEURIZED FOODS -- dairy creamers

  • Temperature -- 41 degrees F unless specified by the manufacturer
  • Package -- intact, clean, and properly dated
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odors or discoloration detected upon opening

ASEPTICALLY PACKAGED FOODS -- includes non-dairy creamers and juices

  • Temperature -- room temperature
  • Package -- intact, clean, and properly dated
  • Sensory characteristics -- no undesirable odors or discoloration detected upon opening

BAKERY FOODS -- includes breads, cookies, cakes

  • Temperature -- room temperature
  • Package -- intact, clean, and no signs of pest damage
  • Sensory characteristics -- no discoloration or molding