A heat transfer model was developed for simulating time-varying temperature distributions in ready-to-eat meats during thermal processing. Three-dimensional transient finite element analysis was presented as a tool to solve the model without the need for proprietary software. The model considered conduction as the governing heat transfer phenomenon; with evaporative, convective and radiative boundary conditions. Moreover, it took into account several factors present in meat processing such as three-dimensional products with irregular geometries; time-dependant processing conditions including air temperature, air velocity and relative humidity; non-uniform initial temperature distributions; and temperature dependent thermal properties. The finite element analysis was performed on meshes containing linear tetrahedral and triangular elements. The step-by-step methodology described can be easily extrapolated to computational algorithms implementable in free license software (e.g. Java Technology). In addition, these algorithms can be integrated with predictive microbiology models; which can be particularly useful for evaluating the severity of thermal processing deviations caused by unexpected processing disruptions. This integration can be the foundation of open source software packages which will serve as quantitative tools to support food safety management in the meat industry.