Questions About Meat Packaging & Storage

by firsthandfoods on March 3, 2014

1. What is the red liquid inside my meat package?

Many people think that the red liquid inside the bag of meat they have purchased is blood. While red in color, it is technically not blood but a mixture of water and myoglobin (a protein in the muscle fibers responsible for giving meat its red color). Blood is actually removed during the slaughter process. The meat you have purchased from Firsthand Foods comes inside a plastic bag that has been vacuum-sealed to remove all the surrounding air (and thus improve shelf life). As the meat ages, muscle fibers break down, and water and myoglobin cells are released inside the bag.

2. Sometimes I smell a strong odor when I open my meat package. Does that mean the meat is bad?

No. The odor is associated with the natural aging process that occurs when meat is stored under refrigerated conditions. Enzymes activate the aging (or tenderizing) process. Because our meat is sold in vacuum-sealed packaging (unlike meat sold in many retail settings), any odor or off-gassing associated with enzymatic activity will build up inside the bag. When you first open the bag and release the vacuum seal, the odor may be pungent but should dissipate after the meat is rinsed and no longer in contact with the liquid and/or plastic bag.

3. How do I know if my meat has “gone bad?”

Typical signs of spoiled meat include a slimy residue, tacky texture, odor, and/or off-color. It is worth noting that a change in color ALONE does not necessarily indicate spoilage. Many factors influence the color of meat, including the age, species, sex and diet of the animal, the specific cut of meat, and how the meat is stored. Changes in color during storage are normal.

4. How long can I store my meat in the freezer?

We recommend storing your meat no longer than 6 months in the freezer. Make sure the vacuum seal stays intact. Remember, it is best to freeze your meat immediately after purchasing it if you don’t intend to consume it right away. Freezing “halts” the spoilage process but does not reverse it. If you  keep the meat in your refrigerator for 2 weeks and then freeze it, when you later remove it from the freezer, you will need to cook it right away as the shelf life will be minimal. If the vacuum seal breaks, you will likely notice signs of freezer burn or white dried patches on the meat. It is safe to eat but will be dried-out and tasteless.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria July 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm

I recently got some andouille sausage at my co-op Chatham Marketplace. Is it already cooked? Or is it raw? Packaging doesnt specify. Thx!

firsthandfoods August 8, 2017 at 7:58 am

Hi Maria- Thanks for your question! Our Andouille and Kielbasa are smoked and thus partially cooked but NOT ready to eat. They must be heated to an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees F before consuming.

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