Frequently Asked Questions

How long does meat last in the freezer?

Larger frozen cuts will keep better and longer with less flavour change, than smaller frozen cuts.  As a general rule, no longer than 6 months, although raw mince should be eaten within 2 months.  Cooked meat can be frozen for 1-2 months.

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What is the best way to thaw meat?

If possible, plan ahead when intending to use frozen meat. The best way to maintain quality of frozen meat is by slow thawing in its existing wrapping in the refrigerator or chiller.

Allow the following approximate thawing times in the refrigerator:

  • Large roast:  4-7 hours per 500 grams
  • Small roast:  3-5 hours per 500 grams
  • Steak, 2.5cm thick: 12-14 hours

Ensure there is no possibility of meat drip during thawing ,by placing meat on a tray at the bottom of the refrigerator.  This prevents contaminating other foods in the refrigerator.

Thawing meat at room temperature is not recommended. The meat surfaces may reach temperatures warm enough to encourage microbial growth. Temperatures above 7oC are especially dangerous as they can allow the growth of pathogens such as Salmonella if present on the meat.

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How long can I store thawed meat?

Providing the fridge is operating between 2-4oC, thawed meat can be kept refrigerated for 3 – 5 days, with raw minced meat, sausage & small goods for 1 – 2 days.

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How long will fresh meat last in the refrigerator?

Fresh primal and sub-primal cuts may be kept up to 10 days if packaged correctly and kept at low temperatures (below 4oC).

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Is the best beef and lamb exported?

No. The Quality Mark standard guarantees the high quality of beef and lamb within New Zealand, which is equal to that exported and eaten overseas.

Is beef and lamb pumped up with water?

No. This is illegal. Only cured meat such as corned silverside is allowed to receive additional water.

Lean muscle fibres in meat are made up of 50-75% water. This natural moisture in meat contributes to its juiciness. Some water is driven out of meat during cooking therefore the longer the cooking, the more water is lost.  If cooked too long, very lean cuts can lose much of their moisture, resulting in very dry meat.

Is New Zealand beef and lamb free of Hormone Growth Promotants (HGPs)? 

The use of hormones in New Zealand is very low and then predominantly only in the case of export beef meat. New Zealanders have the protection of the New Zealand Beef and Lamb Quality Mark programme which specifically prohibits HGPs and further, is a guarantee the product is grown and processed in New Zealand.  For more information about the Quality Mark, click here.

How do I know the beef and lamb I buy is from New Zealand?

Any beef or lamb product complying with the Quality Mark standards is guaranteed to be from New Zealand.  Click here for more information.

Where can I purchase 100% Halal certified beef?

Please visit for a directory of halal certified establishments.

Is the beef available in New Zealand supermarkets all Halal?

Although a significant proportion of sheep and beef is slaughtered according to halal requirements, only a much smaller percentage is actually halal-certified and labeled.  Halal audit, certification and labeling incur extra costs, so it is only done at the request of a customer or when it is a market access requirement overseas.
In the case of New Zealand supermarkets, the beef and lamb may be from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with halal requirements  - but that product is subsequently ‘contaminated’ by the addition of non-halal ingredients or proximity to non-halal goods such as pork. It therefore becomes re-designated as non-halal and cannot be labelled as halal in supermarkets.

What monies are paid to the Islamic Federation of New Zealand?

Halal accredited meat processors do pay fees to halal certification agencies.  These fees are paid to certifiers for periodic audits of processing premises and also for provision of halal certificates (for Muslim overseas markets and specific Halal shops in New Zealand). Halal accredited processing plants produce halal meat primarily for the purposes of export to Muslim markets.  The costs of maintaining halal accreditation would need to be recovered from those targeted export markets.  Accredited plants compete on the New Zealand market with non-accredited processors, so there is no opportunity for accredited processors to pass on halal-related costs to New Zealand consumers who are not purchasing halal-certified product.

Is the Halal method of slaughtering animals in full compliance with animal welfare requirements in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, all commercial slaughter of livestock, including religious slaughter, must be undertaken in a humane manner in accordance with New Zealand’s animal welfare laws. These laws require animals to be ‘stunned’ immediately prior to slaughter.  Stunning ensures an immediate loss of consciousness to prevent animals from feeling any pain during the slaughter process.

What is Cow Pooling

Cow pooling is when a group of consumers band together to buy an animal direct from a farmer, then have it butchered and split the meat.

This is legal when done through a licensed abattoir.

If you are going through a homekill service be very aware that the meat will not be subject to the same food safety standards as that of a licensed abattoir. Also be aware of laws in place for homekill.

Under the Animal Products Act:
It is illegal to trade (buy or sell) homekill meat. This includes “select and slaughter” activities, where a client selects an animal from a farmer and then immediately has the animal slaughtered – either by the farmer or a homekill and recreational catch service provider – before taking the meat away.

Homekill Law - The Basic Facts

The basic policy for homekill activity is set out in section 67 of the Animal Products Act.

Those who can homekill are animal owners who are actively engaged in the day-to-day maintenance of the animal, or animals of the same kind, for a period of at least 28 days.

Such owners may kill and process the animal themselves on their own property (includes property leased, or where there is other legal right to occupy or use the property), or they may have the animal killed or processed by a listed homekill or recreational catch service provider on the service provider's premises or place or the animal owner's own property.

Homekill product is for the use or consumption of the animal owner including his or her family or household and must not be traded (includes barter, supply as part of a service, public prize or reward etc).

A farmer may supply homekill product to an employee of the farmer who is employed in an ongoing manner in the farmer's daily farming operations, for the use or consumption of that employee (including his or her family or household).

The parts of the homekill animal that are not for human or animal consumption (such as the hide, skin, horns, antlers) may be traded and waste material may be sold to a render.

It is also illegal for the farmer to provide the facilities and equipment for the client to slaughter the animal at the farmer’s place.

Homekill cannot be bartered, raffled or donated for use as a prize.

It cannot be used by institutions such as boarding schools, universities, hospitals or prisons.

Homekill cannot be served to paying customers.

Penalties for Breaking the Homekill Laws:

All HKRSPs must be listed with MAF. The penalty for operating without being listed is a maximum fine of $75,000 for providing it to an individual and $300,000 for providing it to a corporation.

If a HKRSP knowingly slaughters and/or processes animals from an owner who hasn’t been involved in the day-today maintainence for at least 28 days prior to slaughter the fines are:

For individuals – maximum fine of $100,000 and two years imprisonment
For corporations – maximum fine of $500,000

Is preservative used on fresh beef and lamb product?

It is illegal to use preservative on fresh meat and this has been the case for more than 30 years. You can rest assured all reputable Quality Mark retailers will be following the laws. 

In the early days of meat retailing, before efficient refrigeration and packaging, the preservative sulphite was used to maintain the freshness of meat. With the advent of refrigeration this practice became unnecessary and subsequently the practice was made illegal due to potential health concerns for asthmatics. 

Therefore, these days, preservative is not used at all on fresh beef and lamb product. It is still used in smallgoods but this is a safe practice used worldwide.

How can I be assured my meat is preservative free?

You can rest assured all reputable retailers will be following the laws. But for further assurance, you can look for the New Zealand Beef & Lamb Quality Mark when purchasing product. 

This red, yellow and black rosette is a guarantee not only of the standard of the product but also the standard of the butchery providing the meat, they must reach strict food safety standards, which includes the exclusion of preservative, to become a Quality Mark retailer.

How are New Zealand’s beef and sheep farmers addressing the impacts of livestock farming on the environment?

New Zealand farmers use modern farming techniques and the latest science to improve their knowledge of livestock and the environment, while still depending on the same natural resources of soil, sunshine and rain their forefathers used before them.  It is the objective of every farmer to pass on the farm to the next generation in a better state than they received it. 

The New Zealand meat industry is proactively working to understand its impact on the environment and identify ways to improve. The industry is proud of its achievements in the environmental area to date, producing healthy, nutritious, sustainable meat, which plays an important role in the Kiwi diet. 

Are bobby calves a part of beef farming practices?


Bobby calves are a part of the Dairy industry and a lot of emphasis is put on ensuring these animals are humanely looked after. For more information on this, visit

Are New Zealand farmers making the best use of the land?

In New Zealand, there is a wide range of land types from rolling and flat pastures at sea level to rugged hill country and mountainous regions. Topography, climate and soil fertility all dictate the most appropriate land use.  Most livestock production takes place on land unsuitable for growing crops of vegetables. If this land were not used for grazing, it would revert to scrub and produce no food at all.  This is therefore the most efficient use of this type of land in terms of food production. 

The vast majority of New Zealand beef and lamb is produced using naturally available resources – grass, rain and sunshine. As such, beef and lamb production in New Zealand is highly sustainable using less fertilizer and less energy, and makes more efficient use of water.  

Meatfree Mondays... Do we eat too much red meat? 

Eating less meat will not save the planet, especially our part of it here in New Zealand.  ‘Going vegetarian’ might seem like a simple solution, but there is little evidence to show any benefit.

The notion that eating less meat is good for the environment is based on the mistaken belief grain could be substituted wherever meat is produced. In New Zealand, large areas of the country are unsuitable for grain production and are most efficiently used by growing pasture for sheep and cattle. Red meat is also nutrient dense which means eating meat is an efficient way to meet daily dietary nutrient requirements on a per calorie/kilojoule basis.

Eating less meat is neither healthier nor kinder to the environment so Kiwis should continue to enjoy lean beef and lamb as part of a balanced diet, confident in its quality and the credibility of those involved in its production.

What about animal welfare?

All Quality Mark beef and lamb has been processed under the strictest animal welfare standards. The processor has procedures and facilities in place to minimise stress and ensure the health and welfare needs of the animals are met. 

Stunning and sticking is accomplished in a humane way in accordance with the Animal Welfare (Commercial  Slaughter) Code of Welfare 2010: animal-welfare/codes/commercial-slaughter

How do I know NZ beef and lamb is safe to eat?

All Quality Mark beef and lamb processed complies with standards specified in the NZFSA meat manual. Product temperature must be progressively reduced so the cold chain is maintained, to ultimately achieve a temperature (deep bone) of less than 7°C by the time the product is offered for retail sale.

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