Buying Fresh Meat: Essential Things to Look For


Try this: The next time you shop for food, look closely at the products you buy. If you are in the habit of buying packaged meat, look carefully at its sell-by date, where it is packaged, and where it comes from.

The problem with most of us is that we just hurriedly dump food items into our shopping baskets without taking the time to check these items thoroughly. We, as shoppers, need to be more conscious of the food we buy, especially if we are feeding our families. We wouldn’t want our children to consume unhealthy or unhygienically prepared food, would we? So instead of just superficially checking a food product’s labelling, pay more attention to its source and, of course, its actual freshness.

How to determine the freshness of meat:

Choosing Beef

Aside from checking out the labelling of a package of beef, you can ascertain the freshness of the meat by taking a close look at its colouring. Beef with a bright red colour is best.

When it comes to ground beef, keep in mind that it is more perishable than bigger cuts of meat, so the date of packaging is important. Choose a package of ground beef that is bright cherry red in colour, as this means that it is fresh. But don’t be surprised if the ground beef underneath the surface is a little purplish; it is simply a sign that this part was not exposed to oxygen like the outer part was. The more beef is oxygen-exposed, the more its colour changes from bright red to purplish to brown.

Choosing chicken

When buying packaged chicken, whether whole or in different cuts, it is important to be extra careful. Chicken that is not processed or packaged properly can harbour bacteria that can lead to illness. Once you have checked the chicken’s sell-by or expiration date, it’s time to check the meat itself. Remember that chicken meat should have a cream or off-white colouring. Don’t be alarmed if the fattier cuts of chicken, such as the thighs, have a more pinkish hue. This is the normal colouring for fattier cuts. If you are buying a whole chicken, make sure that it is plump and meaty, and that it has a normal (and not lopsided) shape. A whole chicken should not have any broken or disjointed bones.

When buying chicken with skin on, such as drumsticks or legs, look closely at the skin – it should not have any feathers sticking out, and there should be no discolourations or flesh that is exposed. For boneless chicken, the same rules apply – it should be free from bones or bone fragments of any kind, and it should not have any tendons, cartilage, or discolourations, either.

If you really want to be careful when it comes to the meat you buy, especially chicken, it pays to know where it is sourced and how it is processed. In this regard, Halal chicken is a good choice, because it is known for being ethically and hygienically processed and packaged.

At the end of the day, the food you buy is supposed to make you and your family healthier. Choose your fresh meat wisely and be more conscious of its sourcing so you know that you are consuming the right products for your nutritional needs.

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