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    Storing Raw Meat
    Keep your meat cold; just above freezing is the best storage temperature. Since most refrigerators are set at about 40°F, that means keeping meat in a cold corner distant from the door.

    Products stored in unopened, commercially wrapped packaging can stay fresh for twice that of opened packages.

    We also offer vacuum packaging, which is the optimal way to freeze meat. A good vacuum seal acts as a barrier against dehydration and ice crystals, allowing an extended shelf life if the meat is quickly frozen and kept at temperatures below 10°F.

    According to the USDA, products with a "Sell-By Date" (or no date) should be cooked or frozen according to the times on the following chart.

    Storing Fresh/Uncooked Meat Products
    Poultry 1 - 2 days
    Beef, Veal, Pork and Lamb 3 - 5 days
    Ground Meat/Poultry 1 - 2 days
    Fresh Specialty Parts (Liver, Tongue, Tripe, Feet, Gizzards, Sweetbreads) 1 - 2 days
    Cured Ham (Uncooked) 5 - 7 days
    Sausage: Pork, Beef or Turkey (Uncooked) 1 - 2 days
    Eggs 3 - 5 weeks

    See the USDA Food Safety Website for more on food storage.

    Storing Cooked Meat
    Cooked meat can both impart and absorb flavors, so wrap it in airtight plastic. Most cooked meat will last for 3 or 4 days, or a couple of days longer if it was cooked in something acidic like wine, lemon juice or tomatoes or if the product was smoked or dry-cured.

    Meat that's vacuum-packed tends to stand up to the rigors of freezing better than meat that's simply wrapped. To freeze meat at home, wrap in plastic and place in a zip-top bag — squeeze all the air out before sealing. Store in the back of the freezer (where it's colder), and use it within a month.

    Thaw meat by keeping it in the refrigerator overnight or immersing it, wrapped, in cold water. Don't ever thaw meat at room temperature or with hot water.

    The color of meat products is influenced by the animal's species, gender, age and lifestyle. Muscle tissue that gets more exercise is full of myoglobin, a protein responsible for the red color.

    You may notice a slightly purple coloration on the interior of ground beef which will bloom to a reddish hue when exposed to oxygen in the air. This change in color (as well as browning on the exterior layer of ground meat) indicates normal oxidation and does not signify spoilage unless the color change is also accompanied by an unpleasant odor or a tacky/slimy feeling to the touch.

    See the USDA Food Safety Website for further information.

    Saying Goodbye
    Food product dates are helpful, but the most reliable judgment of a past-its-prime product is made with your senses — look for changes in odor, color and texture. Your meat should not feel slimy or tacky. Take a good whiff. Fresh meat should have a clean scent. If there's a fading or darkening in color and the smell makes you wrinkle your nose, toss it.

    Storage: MANAGER

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