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How to Check Red Meat for Freshness in Three Easy Steps

Meat can be one of the tastiest foods on the planet, or the most dangerous, depending upon how it reaches you.

Many halal meat markets don’t have a ‘sell-by’ date on the packaging for red meats so it’s basically a matter of asking the butcher when the meat arrived and when they put it in the display case. You should also ask if it came to them frozen and if they froze then thawed out the meat before putting it into their case. That will give you a time frame of how old (thus, how fresh) the meat actually is.

Here’s what to look for when have the meat in front of you:

1. Red meat like lamb or beef should be bright red- that means it’s the freshest. If it turns a bit purple, it’s still ok but means it’s been exposed to some oxygen.

2. Press the meat firmly with your finger- if it springs back nicely, it is fresh; if not, it is most likely old because it is losing its firmness.

3. Smell the meat- always. It shouldn’t smell like anything, really. Lamb has more of a gamey or wild animal smell, which is normal but meat should never smell like bleach, ammonia or anything foul. If you don’t smell it up close, chances are you may not even notice anything unusual.

What are some of the other things you might look for or questions you ask the butcher when selecting raw meats?

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