Saturday, May 26, 2012

Chilling Meat at Deptford: 1891

This article appeared in the Queenslander newspaper on Saturday 8 August 1891
Chilling Meat at Deptford
About two years ago the first refrigerating chambers were installed at Deptford, the great English meat emporium. It is well known that immense numbers of imported cattle are weekly slaughtered at Deptford, but it may not be so generally known that the whole of the meat so killed is chilled before being put into consumption. Cattle and sheep imported from America and the continent of Europe are not allowed to leave the port, but mast be slaughtered there within ten days of their arrival. Immediately after slaughter the fresh sides of beef are attached to overhead lines and pushed along to the chill rooms, in which they remain for sixteen hours. The freezing atmosphere "sets" the beef and improves its keeping as well as its table qualities. So successful has this process been from a financial standpoint that the accommodation had to be enlarged twofold, and recently a huge and elaborate machine, the invention of Sir Alfred Haslam, the Mayor of Derby, has been fitted up. By means of this machine a continuous stream of cold air, from 70deg. to l00deg. below zero, is poured into the hermetically sealed rooms in which the freshly killed beef is hung. These rooms are lined with match-boarding, behind which is brown paper and a 6in. thickness of charcoal. The chill-rooms hold 800 sides of beef, and when thus cooled much waste is prevented, and it reaches the consumers in the primest condition. Some idea of the waste constantly going on in these colonies may be formed from the fact that at Deptford one bullock alone supplies edible offal sufficient for forty four people's dinners and a sheep for eight, the whole of the meat proper going to the central market. In the Australian colonies it may safely be said that scarcely a particle of this edible offal is used for human food, and that in a Brisbane slaughteryard, through which 100 beasts pass weekly, the matter going to waste would provide dinners for 4400 people in London; and the waste from sheep may safely be estimated at considerably over that, or in other words 10,000 of the poor of London could be supplied with a comfortable meal from the weekly waste of one Brisbane slaughteryard doing only a second or third rate business.


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