Vacuum sealed meat has become so popular that it is inescapable, with most modern grocery and meat stores offering fresh vacuum-sealed meat. And why wouldn’t they? Vacuum sealed meat offers consumers a longer-lasting, more well-protected product.
However, if you have been around vacuum-sealed meat then you will notice that it can give off a very particular smell when the vacuum seal is opened. This odor is very distinct and can be quite disconcerting if you don’t know what to expect.
Why Does Vacuum Sealed Meat Smell?
Vacuum sealed meat smells due to a build-up of lactic acid from the vacuum seal process. This smell is generally no cause for alarm, as it is caused by a perfectly safe, natural processes.
Furthermore, the smell will generally disappear after a few minutes. Nevertheless, you must learn exactly what to expect when dealing with vacuum-sealed meat since a funky smell can still mean your meat has spoiled.
Why Is Meat Vacuum-Sealed?
The vacuum sealing process is a preservation technique that consists of extracting all oxygen from the container in which a perishable product will be stored. In the case of vacuum-sealed meat, the container is almost always a plastic bag.
Vacuum sealing meat keeps the packed product fresh and significantly prolongs the shelf life of the product because it protects it from pathogens and the oxidizing effect of the air that surrounds us.
The process must be carried out in specialized facilities that can generate very specific conditions to guarantee a product that is safe for consumption.
But the process will also cause two very particular side effects. For starters, vacuum-sealed red meats like beef change color rather quickly. It is very common to see pieces of vacuum-sealed steak take on a completely unappetizing dark purplish color due to the lack of oxygen.
Thankfully, the meat will recover its original, natural reddish hues once the seal is broken and oxygen enters the equation again, decompressing the flesh. However, this is just about when the “vacuum-sealed smell” will hit your nostrils.
This characteristic smell is caused by lactic acid that builds up during the vacuum seal process and is a telling sign that the meat was properly preserved. In other words, you want your vacuum-sealed meat to have this slightly tangy smell.
Getting Rid of The Vacuum-Sealed Smell
Thankfully, the smell of vacuum-sealed meat goes away on its own after a few minutes. Generally speaking, waiting about between 20 to 30 minutes should be enough for the odor to dissipate completely.
However, If you cannot stand the thought of eating meat that smells funky in any way, shape, or form, you’re going to want to remove the smell before cooking it. To do so, you can rinse the meat under running water for a couple of minutes, and then tap dry with some clean paper towels.
If doing this does not remove the smell, or if the smell veers close to a rancid rotten-eggs smell, then you may have spoilage on your hands.
How To Tell If Your Vacuum Sealed Meat Has Gone Bad?
It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while you may get a piece of vacuum-sealed meat that has gone bad inside the pack.
When this happens it is almost always due to a lack of proper storage. Vacuum sealing a piece of meat will prolong its shelf life, but it will still need to be stored in cold temperatures. And used before its best before date. Vacuum sealed meat left at room temperature will still go bad quickly.
Consuming vacuum-sealed meat that has been left out at room temperatures is very dangerous as there are plenty of harmful bacteria that will still grow on its surface despite the lack of oxygen.
These bacteria, known as anaerobic bacteria, don’t require oxygen to grow, they simply require a lukewarm temperature.
If your vacuum-sealed meat has a grayish or greenish tint to it, it is a very strong sign that it has gone bad. Another telling sign to look for is if your meat remains slimy after rinsing and patting dry.
Another surefire sign that you have bad meat is if the smell is very sour, or if the meat smells somewhat rancid or putrid. The smell of bad meat can be hard to describe, but it is very distinct and hard to miss.
If your meat displays any of these signs, dispose of it immediately to prevent illness. Eating it can lead to a severe case of food poisoning, or worse. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and no amount of wasted money is worth a trip to the hospital.