I was talking to a non-paleo friend who said that grocery stores tend to repackage or regrind their expired meat with fresh meat, add more C02 to make it look red again, and then put it back on the shelf with a new expiration date until it sells. Is that true? Do all grocers do it?
I had assumed sell-by dates would be regulated by the USDA or something, but apparently not.
Obviously just-killed, properly-handled, direct-from-farmer-you-trust meat is the ideal, but I know a lot of paleo folks eat meat from the grocery or local butcher too. Have you seen any data that could help quantify the risk of consuming potentially old meat?
(Here is a list of common bacterial nasties, some of which grow under refrigeration and/or leave toxins that aren't destroyed by cooking... probably not good to consume even if you don't get acutely ill)
By golly I hope not all of them do.
I feel fairly confident the meat I buy from e.g. Whole Foods doesn't suffer this treatment. You can tell that the ground beef hasn't been ground a bunch of times primarily due to the texture.
Unfortunately there's a market near the Ogilvie train station in Chicago that I've seen re-packaging steaks after taking them out of their shrink-wrap, cutting off bits that don't look as nice, and re-shrink-wrapping them.
Your post explains why I've never cared for the texture (or color!) of their ground beef. I've been sure that the meat has been ground and/or reground too many times (quite mushy). Their "ground chuck" seems too dry (lean), and the color is more the color of very rare as opposed to what I'm used to seeing as raw.
I thought I was 'safe' because it's "tall grass beef" ( http://www.tallgrassbeef.com/ ) ... but if this market is carrying out the practices you're talking about, I think I'll pass on buying their meat altogether.
They did an investigation on tv some years back. THe prob was in most supermarkets and it was mostly done with ground meat. The other thing they do with almost expired meat is cook it and then sell it to you cooked! However, I have never gotten sick from any grocery store meat and I do still buy a lot of it. I suspect that paleos were able to eat meat that was not perfectly fresh and still handle a certain amount of bacterial load. It's actually the other hidden things like hormones that worry me more.
I work for a large grocery store and I can tell you that we don't do that. I'm not saying that nobody does, but most stores do not. The day before our meat hits the sell-by date, it gets price-reduced, if it doesn't sell, we freeze it and donate it to the food bank.
I wouldn't be surprised that it happens. But I don't expect it to happen everywhere. We go to the butcher to get our meat. I suppose there is a chance it is 'recycled', but I know he doesn't put dye in his meat so it would be much easier to detect than say Wal-mart who is notorious for dye.
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