Are you purchasing the freshest meat and/or meat products from your local grocer? You certainly may think so, however, this may not be the case. There are some questionable practices meat department personnel may apply that you are unaware of. Meat and meat products are expensive and perishable. A no sale for the butcher becomes an unwelcome loss.
As a result, they may perform particular tasks to extend their “shelf lives”. The quality you expect and the product you receive can be two different things. As a consumer, there are certain measures you can undertake to assure yourself a fresher, higher quality product.
When a meat item is on sale, take advantage of the cost. This is perhaps the best time to buy a fresh product. The demand will be greater; hence, there is less likelihood of it sitting on the shelf too long. If the package isn’t labeled “Choice”, the cut is most certainly “Select”. This type of meat is lower in quality and taste.
Always find out which kind of meat is used before you make your selection. “Select” meats are good candidates for sale items: cheaper for the butcher to purchase, with a higher mark-up price. The consumer pays less and the grocer makes a higher profit. However, the quality is undeniably compromised. Your taste buds will be the final test!
Whenever items are marked with a sale, reduced, or special sticker, you should be wary. If the item isn’t an advertised special or an in-store special, it is being cleared. Meat wrappers use these tags to sell meat products as quickly as possible. These goods are perhaps past their “shelf life” expectancy or out-dated, especially in the case of processed items. Hot dogs, lunchmeats, and other pre-packaged foodstuffs can be rewrapped and sold at a discounted price. If the grocer’s meat department doesn’t make its own varieties of sausage, cold cuts, and other specialty products, this is a dead giveaway!
These out-dated materials could actually be sold for another two to three days! Any profit is better than none. Fortunately, not all meat departments perform in this manner, but always pay attention! Always check the expiration dates! If an item is in its original casing and is reduced, it will more than likely be approaching its expiration date soon. If you plan on using it immediately, then it is a safe, economical purchase.
When meat comes from the warehouse to the grocery store, it’s frozen. There are very few exceptions! It is thawed, cut or ground, and placed out for sale. This includes fowl and fish, meats whose “shelf life” is shorter. Since most consumers refreeze their purchases, you must make sure the meat you buy is as fresh as possible.
Any discoloration or unusual odors, especially with fish and fowl, should be avoided. Remember, as a consumer, you can always ask to have meat cut specifically for you. When the meat cutter is on duty, he or she will be more than happy to try and meet your needs.
Calling ahead of time and placing an order is also an option. You get the meat you want, cut the way you wish, and its freshness is most likely superior to that in the counter. Remember, you are the customer and they want to please you! After all, repeat business is essential!Calling ahead