Meat with white flecks and streaks of fat distributed throughout the muscle, will be juicier and tender. This fat is called marbling, and the finer the marbling, the tastier. Wagyu beef is prized for its marbling and is well-known for its flavor and tenderness. These types of meat are also more expensive.

                                            Grilled striploin sliced steak on cutting board over stone table

Meat texture

                      various types of fresh meat: pork, beef, turkey and chicken on a wooden table, top view

Beef meat should be firm, dense and dry. The muscle fibers should be tightly packed and be uniform. If meat looks like it’s going to fall apart, it could be due to poor handling or poor quality. Poultry meat should also be firm and dry. If the meat is slimy or sticky, then rather stay away. This stands for all types of meat, whether you’re buying beef, lamb, chicken, or pork.

The sell-by date

Best before dates have more to do with quality than food safety. The manufacturers are basically telling you that the product is at its optimum freshness before a certain date. After that date, the food item can still be consumed, but it’s up to the consumer to decide whether it is still safe to eat.

If you are not planning to cook immediately, try to buy meat with the latest best-before or sell-by date. In that way, you can keep it in your fridge for a few days without running the risk of spoiled meat. Its flavor is very strong, and you might have to acquire the taste before being able to enjoy a meal of mutton if you’re an American is best for tougher cuts such as the shoulder.

The use-by-date

The use-by-date is important, since it’s an indication of how close the meat is to being spoiled. You should always consume meat before, or on, this use-by date. After this date has passed, it’s very risky to consume.

Meats such as ground beef are especially risky. Not only is there more surface area exposed, but it also went through more processing and handling. So, it’s more prone to spoilage than a piece of steak.