If you’ve ever seen meat sealed in a vacuum pack at your local supermarket, you might be left scratching your head wondering why it has been packaged this way. Well, puts simply, this will preserve the overall shelf-life of your meat.
Meat has a nasty habit of going off and plenty have companies have dedicated all of their resources to figuring out how to stop this from happening. One of the methods is vacuum sealing. But what happens if when you open your vacuum-sealed meat it smells bad?
Well, you don’t need to worry. Sometimes vacuum-sealed meat will release some natural odors when it is opened. However, when is it not safe to consume? Well, we’ll give you everything you need to know to avoid possibly consuming harmful meat.
Why Does My Vacuum-Sealed Meat Smell?
All meat has a natural odor that you might not always be able to detect when you are buying it fresh. But if you have stepped into a butcher’s, you’ll have noticed that there is a distinctive smell.
Well, this applies to meat in a vacuum-sealed package. The oxygen has been sucked out, leaving the natural smell to build up over time. As a result, when you open your sealed packet, the smell will be released, which is often quite intense.
However, this does not mean that your meat is gone off. If your meat is still within the use-by date, then it should not be infit for eating.
Often meat will smell tangy, that’s because there’s a lot of iron in meat. If your meat also has some blood in it, which will also release a potent odor once you have exposed it to the air.
You might also notice that your meat has become slightly discolored. Again, this is a result of the packaging process. When oxygen is not allowed to the meat, the proteins within will start to react and become a lot darker than they would when fresh.
Is It Possible To Get Rid Of This Smell From Vacuum-Sealed Meat?
If you have noticed an odor on your meat that is lingering, then you might want to get rid of it immediately. This might be because you are about to serve it to people and you won’t want them to think this meat is gone-off.
However, there are a few methods you can use to vanquish this smell. One of the first ones is to simply wash the meat after you have opened it.
You should do this gently, as washing too vigorously will often result in some of your meat being damaged. You’ll want to take a bowl of warm water and gently submerge your meat in it, rubbing the outer fibers of the meat with your fingers.
If you are washing your meat, then try not to do so vigorously. If you create a lot of splashing, then you will increase the number of bacteria that are distributed across your cooking area.
You should not put meat such as chicken and pork under a running tap for this very reason also, as this will also increase the likelihood of bacteria spreading.
Once you have washed your meat, then you should leave it out on the counter for around 30 minutes at room temperature. This will give the smell the chance to disperse.
Once all the water has evaporated, then this gives the meat the best chance of cooking all over the surface. You should notice that the majority of the smell has disappeared and that even some of the natural color has returned to the meat.
How Can You Tell If Vacuum-Sealed Meat Has Gone Bad?
If your foul smell persists and does not disappear even after you cook the meat, then this might be a sign that it has gone bad.
It is not that common for meat to turn sour if it is well within the use-by date. This is why you must check this before throwing the meat out. However, there could be a chance that this meat has been incorrectly labeled, although this is very rare.
You might notice that the meat has not returned to its original color either. If you have left it for 30 minutes after washing and it still has an intense tangy odor and is dark in color, then you might want to throw this meat away.
Here are some other things that you might want to check to see if your meat has gone bad or not:
Are The Seals Still Intact?
One of the reasons why your meat might be gone off, even if it is well within the sell-by date, is that the seal has been broken without anyone noticing.
If the seal is broken then that means oxygen has been allowed to infiltrate the meat, which will lead to the spread of bacteria. This will quicken the decomposition of the meat and result in it going bad.
You should try pulling at the edges of your vacuum sealing to see if the packaging has come away at any point. Sometimes even the tiniest of holes will result in oxygen entering your meat.
If the packaging is at all slack on any point of the meat, then this is definitely an indication that oxygen has gotten into the packaging. Ideally, the plastic should be sucked tight against the meat.
What Color Is The Meat?
After you have rinsed your meat, then it should return to the original coloring. However, if you have left the meat to dry after 30 minutes and the color has still not returned, then this could be a sign that your meat has gone off.
If the meat is grey or brown in any portion, then this could be a sign that it has gone bad. If this is coupled with a foul-smelling odor, then this could be a definite indicator that your meat has turned.
Is Your Meat Sticky Or Slimy?
Uncooked meat will have a naturally moist feeling, but it will be a natural sheen that will not have any stickiness to it.
If you are noticing a tacky feeling to your meat, then this could be a sign that it has oxygenated and that bacteria have affected its integrity.
Again, if this is coupled with a strong odor, then this could be a strong indicator that your vacuum-sealed meat has spoiled.
If you have washed the slime off your meat but it is still discolored and giving off a discharge, then you might need to throw your meat away.
What Happens If My Meat Smells Within The Use-By Date?
This is when you’ll need to trust a few of your senses rather than what is written on the packaging.
If the meat is tacky, it smells and it has discolored, but it is within the use-by date, then the chances are something has gone wrong either with the labeling or the integrity of the packaging.
If the smell of your meat persists after washing and being left to stand out for 30 minutes, then you might have to throw your meat away, no matter what the packaging tells you.
If you have noticed that your meat is spoiled but still within the use-by date, then the chances are that the fault is not yours. If this is the case, then you’ll need to take your meat back to the supermarket and get a refund.
What Issues Could There Be With The Packaging?
There are many reasons your meat could have spoiled before you even get to the store. Here are a few things that could have happened when the meat was being packaged:
This is one of the more common offenders of your meat going bad even when it states it is well within the use-by date.
These holes do not need to be massive either. In fact, the tiniest holes are the ones that will go unnoticed by the staff at your supermarket. The packaging could also have been punctured by someone accidentally while it was on the shop floor.
Once a small hole is created, it could lead to a larger hole that will cause the plastic to come away from the meat and bacteria to run riot.
Temperature plays a huge part in how long meat will last. If your meat has been stored at a temperature of over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the chances are that this meat will spoil pretty quickly, no matter how tightly it is sealed.
This could happen at any point during your vacuum-sealed meat’s journey from the processing plant to the supermarket shelf.
If there is a transport truck that is not set to the right temperature, then this could cause a lot of meat to spoil at once.
If you have left your meat out at room temperature for too long, this can also determine how quickly your meat will spoil.
Taking your meat from the supermarket in the car on the way home can always be a tricky situation, as it will be exposed to warmer temperatures for a long period of time.
If your meat is left out at room temperature for longer than 30 minutes, then it could start to spoil a lot quicker.
You’ll also need to double-check your refrigerator temperature. If it is set too low, then it might not spoil quickly, but it could spoil a lot quicker than it would if it were set at the correct temperature.
The Use-By Date Is Near
Buying meat that is close to the use-by date can often mean that the meat has been discounted, but with this comes other risks.
The closer that your meat is to the use-by date, the higher the likelihood of it spoiling. This applies even if you put it in the fridge soon after purchasing.
Some butchers will also leave the raw meat to hang out for a long time before packaging it in their vacuum sealing. This means that bacteria have been allowed to get to the meat, which will then start to multiply when placed in the packaging.
The reason why butchers hang the meat out for a while before packaging is because the meat will become aged, which will improve the overall flavor of the meat in question. It is a delicate balancing act of how long to leave the meat out and when to package it.
Meat Can Be Bad From The Get Go
Sometimes there will be no amount of prep or chilling that will stop your meat from going bad.
No matter how many quality checks the meat goes through, a bad chunk or pork, beef or chicken can make its way through the system and end up in your fridge.
These situations are very rare and if you spot a bad piece of meat early enough, then you should be able to take it back to the supermarket to get a refund.
Whatever happens, if you get a piece of meat that you know is bad, then you should throw it out immediately. Consuming bad meat can be very, very bad for your health.
We hope that this article has helped you better understand how vacuum-sealed meat is packaged, how best to tell if your meat has gone bad and how you can avoid consuming bad meat in the future.