Discounted, Outdated Meats
Most fresh foods which have been discounted because their "sell by" date has arrived are still safe to eat even as much as a week later.
But be careful.
Meats are the most problematic. They may have been left out of refrigeration while the butcher made way for fresher meats in the case. Bloods from one meat may have contaminated another in the discount bin, etc.
Beef is almost always the safest "old" meat. Slight browning is OK; that just means the water is beginning to evaporate from the blood. Green is NOT ok and neither is a filmy, rainbow-like, oily coating, like an oil slick. Check carefully for this film; if you see it, throw the meat back.
I highly recommend handling ALL meats at the store only while wearing plastic bags on hands. That way, you don't contaminate your hands, the shopping cart, your purse, your baby's bottle, etc. Bring along a bottle of waterless handcleaner which contains rubbing alcohol. WASH YOUR HANDS, before and after handling the meats!
Stay away from hamburger, unless it's completely red as far around the package as you can see. The bottom, on the styrofoam tray, should be alright, as it hasn't been exposed to air. Never buy hamburger which has a "sell by" date earlier than the day you see it.
Pork is problematic. Check for all cosmetic conditions as in beef. Salted porks, such as bacons and hams, are generally ok. Beware of sausage! I wouldn't buy old sausage, except links processed in a factory, and then only if the "sell by" date is the day I'm shopping or later.
Poultry spoils the fastest. And poultry blood can contaminate other meats easily. ONLY buy it if the ORIGINAL pricing label is on it, and it expired no later than the day you purchase it! I would never buy such things as ground poultry ("turkey burger," chicken sausage, etc.), even in patty or "nugget" form.
Always check dates, on all meats. Beware: these must not be re-stickered packages. The sticker should show the ORIGINAL price per pound, weight of item, and original sell-by date. If there's another sticker over the original, or if the butcher has obscured the original in any way, you CANNOT trust that butcher! Go to a different store!
NEVER buy "sell by" meats with sauces, seasonings and marinades that obscure your ability to see the meats clearly.
Often, butchers will "season" old meat, repackage it with a new "sell buy" date, and make you sick as a dog!
Meats must NOT be stored in a hot car while shopping for something else! Don't buy them if you can't go home right away to process them! And don't buy more than you can store almost immediately!
Since I'm on the bus, I've learned a trick. I ask the fish monger for crushed ice. Be very careful of this ice: it is treated with inedible chemicals to prevent it from melting fast. It might also have fish blood in it. Double wrap any meats you put in this ice and tie knots in the bags, place knot-side up in the ice.
I take a styrofoam cooler with me. But plastic grocery bags, doubled, will contain iced meats for about half an hour before leaking.
When you get them home, open packages and discard blood "diapers" IMMEDIATELY, inside a SEALED plastic bag.
Throw ice in toilet or shower stall, so animals, kids and plants won't ingest it.
Rinse meats. Scrub with salt or soak in cold, salted water for awhile, in the refridgerator!
Some meats, particularly poultry and pork, taste good with a slight tang of vinegar. Soaking or wiping these meats with vinegar and then rinsing will prevent bacteria from breeding.
Cook as much as you can immediately. I often merely salt and pepper the meat and bake in the oven at 350 degrees farenheit until the internal temperature reaches 180.
I remove them and package them to freeze or refrigerate immediately.
Never mix meats when cooking. Cook pork with pork, chicken with chicken, turkey with turkey, etc.
Never store more in the refrigerator than can be safely consumed within three days. SEAL the meats in containers or plastic bags. Lids on cooking pots and foils on roasting pans allow bacteria to become air borne inside your refrigerator. They also spread odors.
WASH ALL SURFACES on which you've prepared meats with bleachy water. Wipe carving knives with bleachy water before cutting another food.
NEVER serve old meats rare.
One, last note: be aware of your surroundings in the grocery. Did the butcher throw a three-day-too-old package of fish or turkey burger on top of that steak you think looks good? Can you see old blood in the meat case? Can you see the butchers? Are they handling meats with gloves? Are they well groomed? What does the floor of the butcher department look like? Are large quantities of meat, that couldn't possibly be processed within the hour, laying out in the back at room temperature? What does the floor in front of the meat case look like? When you walked into the store, did you smell fish, or anything else that indicates mishandling foods, like a rancid grease smell or a rotting vegetable smell?
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