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Beef General Information

What are the advantages of vacuum packaging beef?

By Bob Oros

vacuum-pack.jpg (38035
 bytes)Bacteria that causes meat to spoil requires oxygen to grow. When the oxygen is removed by vacuum cryovaced packaging the shelf life is increased from a week to approximately a month and a half. Vacuum packaging inhibits the destructive bacterial growth, however does not stop the natural aging process. The cryovaced packaging is fairly rugged and will withstand normal handling and shipping procedures. If the product is contaminated at slaughter or is shipped under higher than specified temperatures or roughly handled the storage life can be substantially decreased.

At the food service establishment cryovaced meats should be used within four to five days after the vacuum has been broken. Beef that shows some signs of spoilage should be discarded rather than used or put in the freezer.

Leakers are packages that have been punctured and lost their vacuum. They are a potential problem if not used right away. All boxed beef should be checked for leakers as soon as it reaches the food service operator. When the cryovaced package is first opened there is sour smell caused by the type of bacteria that are dominate when oxygen is not present. This is a normal occurrence and it will disappear in about 20 minutes. The older the meat is the longer it usually takes for the odor to disappear. If the odor is still present after 45 minutes and the meat is used the meat will have an off taste.

Some of the old timers can remember when "hanging" beef was still being used and every now and then you would come across what was known as a "heater". This would be an animal that did not completely cool down when it was slaughtered and when it was cut open the odor would be so bad you would have to leave the room. This is all together different than the smell you get when you open cryovaced beef.

Vacuum packaged beef is also a little pale when it is first opened. This is caused by the lack of oxygen. As soon as the meat is exposed to the air for about 15 minutes it will "bloom" into a cherry red color.