Best Before Date - ©

Supermarket Dirty Tricks: Meat Label Meddling

It’s been all over the news this past week – in my town, anyway. What I’ve long suspected has been confirmed. Some supermarkets are re-wrapping and re-dating their fresh meat and poultry products. That’s not only extremely unhealthy – it’s completely illegal!

Packaged Meats Display - © typical Packaged Meat Counter display. Can you believe what you read on the label?

Here’s the skinny, for readers who are not within reach of Canadian TV news: In my jurisdiction, fresh-cut meat and poultry products can be displayed on the shelves for three days, max, before they have to be taken off the market and sold for other uses, such as pet food – or just junked.

Now, several meat cutters have come forward, under condition of anonymity, to report that some – many? most? – supermarkets repackage and re-wrap meats, applying a new Best Before Date to the new labels to get one more day’s chance to sell them. That’s fraud, for a start. And it could be extremely unhealthy for those who prefer poultry to red meat, according to a CBC TV The National probe of several Quebec supermarkets.

The investigators found that most of the Beef they bought at various chain supermarkets was still okay, bacteria-wise. But at least one poultry package – the ubiquitous Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast cut – contained many, many times more bacteria than health department standards allow.’

Now… Add to this the claims from those renegade meat cutters that some supermarkets actually add three days to the Best Before Date when re-packaging. Yuk!

A matter of self defense!

This all makes it even more important for all of us to learn how to tell fresh meats from not-so-fresh. I’ve covered this in detail in a previous post under my Kitchen Safety Series. But I think it’s a good idea to go over the basics again, here, for handy reference when you next visit the meat counter:

  • Beef: Look for bright red colour; ‘clean’ white fat; moist, firm flesh.
  • Pork: Look for pink flesh, ‘clean’ white fat; moist, firm flesh.
  • Lamb: Look for light red/deep pink colour (grain fed may be lighter and less pink); ‘clean’ white fat; moist, firm flesh.
  • Poultry: Look for no off colours or odours, tight skin, firm flesh.
  • For all of the above, make sure there is no excess fluid in the package.

Eat well and stay healthy!

~ Maggie J.