When you visit your local grocery store, you’ll notice that ground beef is available in various types of packaging. But does the type of packaging really matter when it comes to safety and preservation? We spoke to Lisa Robinson, VP of global food safety at Ecolab, who shed light on this topic.
Traditional Packaging: Foam Insulated Trays
The most common packaging for ground beef is foam insulated trays covered in plastic wrap. This type of packaging is inexpensive to manufacture and gives the meat an appealing color. However, it allows oxygen to enter, making the product spoil easily. If you choose ground beef packaged in this way, make sure to use it within two days or freeze it in a sealed bag.
Modified Atmosphere and Controlled Atmosphere Packaging
An innovative development in ground beef packaging is modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and controlled atmosphere packaging (CAP). These techniques replace some or all of the air inside the package with gases like nitrogen or carbon dioxide. The FDA approves these methods as they preserve food better than traditional packaging while maintaining the desired red color.
Exposure to oxygen accelerates the breakdown and spoilage of many foods, including ground beef. To combat this, scientists have created vacuum-sealed packaging. By removing air and creating a vacuum inside the package, this type of packaging keeps ground beef fresher for longer. However, it may give the meat a purple-red color. Vacuum-sealed packaging is ideal if you plan to freeze the meat.
Chub Packaging: Convenient and Freezer-Friendly
Tube packaging, also known as chub packaging, consists of rolls of ground beef in various weights. These rolls are tied at each end with metal twists and vacuum-sealed. Chub packaging is a great option if you’re looking to freeze ground beef conveniently.
Proper Storage of Packaged Ground Beef
To maintain the freshness and slow bacterial growth of ground beef, refrigerate or freeze it as soon as possible after purchase. If you plan to use the meat within a day or two, you can store it in its original packaging in the fridge or freezer.
For longer storage, wrap the original packaging in heavy-duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer paper, or specially designed plastic bags intended for freezing. Lisa Robinson advises marking the packaging with a date and using the ground beef within four months for best quality.
Remember, regardless of the packaging type, all ground beef packaging materials undergo rigorous approval and research to ensure safety. So, choose the packaging that suits your needs and enjoy your delicious ground beef dishes!
Photo by Grace Canaan/Southern Living
For more information on ground beef packaging and other mouthwatering recipes, visit the Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ website.
This article was inspired by Caitlin Bensel’s original piece.