How to Shop for the Best Meat

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Wondering which piece of meat is a cut above the rest?

While millions of Americans buy pork, beef, chicken and more meat at the grocery store, it can be difficult for shoppers to know if they're getting what they pay for.

Inside Edition spoke to Greg Bardwell, the manager at Fleishers Craft Butchery in New York City, and he has some tips for buying the best meat.

Color

Bardwell said it's important to first check the coloring of the meat.

"If anything looks pale, it's probably gonna be lacking in flavor and lacking in nutrients," Bardwell explained.

He pointed out that, for example, there can be portions of a steak that seem out of place, that make shoppers say, "What is that?" Those cuts should be avoided. 

"This is actually silver skin. No matter how much you cook it or chew it, it will never ever break down," Bardwell said.

The butcher wants consumers to look for vibrant pink and red meat. However, don't be scared if you see a little browning.

"So if you had a little bit of brownness in the corner, maybe a little bit of browness over here, that's not bad. That could just be from contact of meat on meat or just what happens when the meat reacts to the air. But if the entire surface is discolored or if you see a solid ring of discoloration, that's not what you want at all," Bardwell said.

Texture

The texture of the meat can also tell shoppers important information, Bardwell said.

He pointed out "puncture wounds" in a pork chop. "As a butcher, I know exactly what that is. ... It is a tenderizer. So what is happening is the butcher is expelling needles into the cut to make it more tender ... and when you puncture holes you're releasing more of those juices and the meat's gonna spoil faster."

Package Date

While it's good to check the meat's sell-by date, Bardwell said it's even more crucial to check the "packed on" date, which indicates how long ago the meat was actually cut.

"If you don't have a 'packed on' date on your meat, don't buy it," Bardwell said.

And if a shopper is sifting through the packages of meat on the shelf, Bardwell noted to be aware that the packages at the front of the shelf are the oldest of the bunch. "So if you go farther back in the pile, that's actually gonna be the freshest product," Bardwell explained.

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