Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Supermarkets and Meats, know how to protect your self when purchasing and handling

Fresh Supermarket Meats
Regardless of how hard the VEGANs and VEGETARIANS might complain, Americans are a nation of Meat-eaters.
So, we should all know at least a little something about those cuts of the different meats we purchase every day, then prepare and serve to ourselves and our families.

Just so you know, there are some basic federal standards on meats such as how to handle them, how they are graded and even recommendations on when to remove them from the shelf and we should take the time to understand these basics about the meats we eat.

But the bad news is that you might be surprised at how few real and enforceable standards actually exist.

By knowing the real standards, you will have a heads up over your fellow shoppers in your search for the best meats you can buy.

Chicken and Salmonella

 Everybody loves Chicken! I mean we must because every restaurant, fast food or Gourmet serves at least a couple of variation of Chicken. The biggest problem withChicken and other fowl, is that is a carrier for Salmonella.

Salmonella is a bacterium that is actually the most common form of food poisoning. And, love it or not, is actually found on most of the Chickens sold in America.

Most of the chicken on a supermarket meat shelf probably has some small level of Salmonella bacteria on it. In fact, it is the rare case when you find commercially sold Chicken that doesn’t.

On the good side, the human body’s digestive system and its high levels of acids will destroy most bacteria in foods, including the typical levels of Salmonella.

On the good side, it is recommended that you adequately cook your chicken and other fowl to the proper temperature (165F or higher) for the recommended minimum period of time to be safe. Doing this properly will kill Salmonella bacteria and assure that your chicken is safe to eat.

One problem though for the cook. When you are handling your Chicken (which we know has some Salmonella in/on it) we must take care to clan up properly wherever we handle it.

Think about it; it would be a shame to cook the Chicken properly and catch Salmonella from the bread you sliced with the same (now polluted) knife on the same (now polluted) counter.

BEEF and Sell By Dates

Beef can be Dry-Aged which is a process that can take weeks or Wet-Aged. See the Tip, Aging Beef for more on these meat-aging procedures. You need to remember that “sell by dates” are literally just suggestions by the retail store, and not a period of time set by the FDA or any other government agency.

See the chapter called; Understanding Food Freshness for some more specific recommendations on how long some foods can last beyond the “sell by date” on the label.

Some stores are very aggressive in managing their product image when it comes to meats, while others are more lenient in what is an acceptable shelf life.

The best suggestion I can give you is to use your eyes and your nose when examining displayed meats. If it looks and smells bad, don’t purchase it.

My next suggestion is for you to become friendly with the butcher in the store. Be friendly, get to know him, and start asking him questions about what you pick up. They will generally give you an honest opinion of whether that particular package is OK or not, and why.

Often, older cuts of Beef, especially the ugly dried out ones, are ground up, along with some fat trimmings into Hamburger in an attempt to salvage the meat from eventually being scrapped.

And, in case you didn’t know it, the “Sell By date” on the old label? Well the old label is discarded and the “new” ground beef gets a brand new label, with its own “sell by date”.

It is recommended that packaged hamburger be frozen if it is over three days old. The black or gray color of some hamburger is normally caused by moisture and oxidation and does not indicate that the meat is bad. Again, smell the meat, and if it smells bad then you should consider not purchasing it.

By the way, Steak Tar-Tar or Beef Carpaccio is made from the Filet cut of steak. An untrimmed Filet, which is used in these dishes, is encased in a thick layer of fat that naturally protects the meat from bacteria.

Pork Chops

Always buy fatty pork chops. The more fat you see on the chop then the better the Pork Chop will taste after it is cooked with the fat on it.

Prime Meat Grade pork chops will have a higher level of marbling in the meat and will be more flavorful.

Even if you don’t want to eat the fat, you should cook the chop with the fat on it and then trim away what you don’t want, as you eat the juicy pork chop.
This way you will get more of the great fat flavor with the meat and not be eating as much fat.


There seems to always be a nice variety of sausages available to select from in a typical supermarket.

Some sausages are manufactured in factories and delivered frozen to the retailer, while some retailers have their store butchers make their own sausages so that they can use their excess meats and trim scraps.

You should always examine the label on the manufacturers sausages and understand the additives that you find listed there. Some additives are benign and safe while some should raise your concern over whether they are actually safe for you and your family.

And, of course, when buying fresh sausages, if you are not going to use them in the next couple of days, you should always freeze them until you do need to use them.