How to Get the Freshest Meat in the Grocery Store

When it comes to shopping for meat in the grocery store, the idea is to get the freshest cuts you can find. Unlike bread that indicates freshness by the color of the twist tie, or fruits and vegetables that give away their freshness through appearance and smell, we can’t always be sure if the meat we pick is the freshest. One of the easiest ways to find the freshest meat at the store right off the bat is to look at the packaging. If it’s “bubbled up,” it likely isn’t the best meat to buy. That’s because when meat is mishandled and goes from a hot temperature to a cold one, the plastic packaging will leave a gap of air and bubble up. That’s an indication that bacteria has begun to grow, which creates a greater risk of food-borne illnesses. In addition, color is a good indicator of the freshness of meat. For beef, the freshest cut will actually look purple before changing to the typical cherry red. The older the meat, the darker the color, with darker brown and gray meat likely already spoiled. For chicken, a pink hue with white streaks of fat is considered normal, while yellow or gray indicates that it’s moldy and unsafe to eat. Finally, there’s smell. Fresh raw meat should have no smell. If your beef or chicken has gone bad, it will have a slightly funky odor, almost like rotten eggs or spoiled milk.