When you want to purchase the freshest ingredients, there are things to consider. Check for these traits when buying red meat from your local supermarket.
Buying meat from the grocery store can be a hassle. If you’re not purchasing it directly from the meat counter, you may have questions about those tightly wrapped little trays you get from the cooler. There are many things to consider when buying red meat at the store, and these tips will help ensure that you get the freshest picks.
1. Read the Label Carefully
Most of the information you need about meat is available on the label. The first thing you should look for is a stamp from the USDA that signifies that the meat has undergone inspection and is safe for consumption.
Besides the stamp, you should check the specific type of meat and the sell-by date. Different types of meat may have other valuable information, such as the meat-fat ratio on certain ground meats. Certain meats like beef or lamb may specify if the animal was grass-fed or not, which can impact health, freshness, and overall cost.
2. Examine the Color
It’s always a good idea to consider color when buying red meat at the grocery store. Color offers a helpful window into how fresh the meat is. Even if the sell-by date seems far away, if the meat is more on the brown side than red, you’ll want to cook it sooner rather than later.
If your beef is brown in specific spots, that's a sign of improper storage, and you may want to avoid it. Pork should have a pinkish tone; it is best to avoid it if it's a paler, whiter color.
3. Check the Packaging
After reading the label and carefully examining the meat, it's always a great idea to ensure the packaging is in good condition. You want to ensure there are no holes or tears in the plastic, as that's an open invitation for contamination.
If you see an abundance of liquid in the tray, that's a common sign of improper storage. A little liquid is fine (remember, the red liquid is not blood), but it may be wise to find a different package if you notice a lot.