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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Reducing Risk Factors in Retail and Food Service: Maricopa County, Arizona Environmental Health Division - Cecina

FDA/CFSAN is posting this document as a service to viewers of the November 30, 2006 satellite broadcast:
"Reducing Risk Factors in Retail and Food Service".

Maricopa County, Arizona Environmental Health Division


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Cecina, Spanish cured beef, is traditionally made by salt curing a whole calf leg over time.

Mexican cecina available in local carnicerias is not made using traditional methods. This product is prepared on a demand basis using salt, oil and refrigeration. It is not cured.

The first step in preparing Mexican cecina is to finely slice around five pounds of beef. Once completed, this thinly sliced product may also be used to make carne seca, otherwise known as beef jerky.

Each slice of meat is seasoned with salt, and rubbed with oil. Variations of ingredients used on sliced product may vary from one carniceria to the next.

It is important to remember that most carnicerias in Maricopa County do not process meats inside a working cold room. Therefore, special attention to time and temperature control for this product and the processing equipment should be observed.

As a rule, the preparation of Mexican cecina, including cooling time, should not exceed four hours. At the end of four hours the finished product should be held at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

The salt and oil that is added to this product gives cecina its distinct look. As an observation this product initially will look cherry red and time progresses the meat will darken.

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