Why Does My Meat Smell Weird?

Beef Rump Roast, vacuum sealed by Byron Center Meats

Have you ever open up a sealed package of meat, only to be slightly off-put from the odor coming from your steak or roast? Typically, the smell is normal…(unless it’s gone bad). Here’s the why and how you can tell the difference!

Why do we vacuum seal meat?

First, let’s take a look at why we vacuum-seal cuts of meat. At Byron Center Meats, we vacuum-seal most of the cuts processed at our facility. Vacuum-sealing your meat keeps your cuts fresh and extend the shelf-life of the product. Because oxygen is removed from the package (vacuum-sealed), bacteria cannot grow (because it needs oxygen to grow), thus extending the shelf-life. The air-tight packaging helps the product retain moisture, prevent moisture-loss from the product which would have caused freezer burn, and keeps your frozen product and its flavor almost as good as the day you put it in the freezer.

Why does my meat look brown? Does that mean its bad?

We’re going to get a bit “scientifical” here– meat is muscle on the animal. The protein in muscle contains myoglobin, which helps the muscle receive and store oxygen. When the myoglobin is exposed to air, it becomes oxymyoglobin, which turns the meat red in color. When air is removed or limited, the meat turns a dull red or brownish color on the surface of the cut because the air is not available to the myoglobin protein. So, it’s not a sign that the meat is “bad”, it just isn’t exposed to air. In fact, if you expose your cut to air–the surface will brighten up a bit because the myoglobin now is in contact with oxygen.

“I open the package and there’s an odor…is this bad?”

At Byron Center Meats, we don’t add anything to our meat products when they are packaged. They are packaged purely in their own juices. That being said, when opening an air-tight package, there can be a brief odor (some describe it as “tangy” or “sour”), from being packaged in its own juices. If you leave your cut outside the package, the odor should disappear. You can also rinse your meat to remove juices or any odors that may linger.

How do I know if my meat is spoiled?

  1. Slimy and sticky texture
  2. Awful odor or odor that doesn’t disappear
  3. Unsealed package with odor
  4. Grey/green color with odor
  5. Off-putting odor even when cooked or during cooking process

Good rule of thumb to follow: if in doubt, throw it out. So the next time you open a package of steaks and there’s some odor, take the steaks out and let them rest for a bit…the odor should disappear. If the odor is quite bad, odor doesn’t disappear, is slimy or quite sticky, then throw away your package.

Byron Center Meats has decades of experience cutting, packaging, and aging high-quality cuts in our state of the art, USDA-inspected facilities. Over the past 75 years, our customers have come to expect a few things from us like quality, freshness, value and service, so you don’t have to worry about “bad” or “spoiled” meat. We’ve got you covered! Packaging our future in every package.

Local Butcher Vs. Chain Grocery Store

Jim Sytsma, CEO at Byron Center Meats, at the bandsaw cutting meat

We’ve all seen the hashtags; #shoplocal #buylocal #supportsmallbusinesses #familybusiness, etc. etc. But is shopping at your local butcher actually that different from picking up some steaks from Meijer or Walmart? Well, get comfortable, put your learning glasses on, and let’s go over some reasons why you should put a local butcher on your route for your grocery run.

Taste the Difference

Vacuum-sealed beef from Byron Center Meats

There’s no surprise here– meat from a local butcher tastes different. Most local butchers age their beef to optimize tenderness. At Byron Center Meats, most of the beef cuts are tenderized and wet-aged for at least 21 days. Wet-aging makes the cut more tender because the enzymes within the muscle will continue to break down the protein in the meat. No, wet-aging does not mean water is added! Dr. Janeal Yancey explains that wet-aging refers to the cut being packaged in its own juices. The cut remains fresh and preserved because of the vacuum-sealed packaging that’s airtight and keeps bacteria from growing.

Meat is their Specialty

Tomahawk Steak, cut by Byron Center Meats

A popular reason one might visit a butcher shop is to pick out specialty cuts. Most butchers have enough variety in their cut selection to satisfy any meat-enthusiast or Pinterest recipe one might find. Need a Denver Steak? Tri-Tip? How about Korean-style Short Ribs? Any experienced butcher will have these cuts on hand or can cut it for you from a primal (large section or wholesale chunk) portion. At a large grocery store, you may only have the cuts available, pre-packaged, or perhaps with no option on thickness. Let’s not even talk about the 50% off stickers because the steak are past their sell-by dates.

With a local butcher, if you want fresh, extra thick steaks for grilling or extra thin for a quick sear, they are able to make it happen for you. You can shop with confidence that your butcher will take care of your every need. Locally sourced or specially raised animals are usually available with local butchers as well. They can tell you where their meat comes from, if it’s corn-fed or grass-fed, all-natural, Wagyu, organic, etc.

Buying Local Supports Community

Jim & Ruth Sytsma, owners of Byron Center Meats

Buying local keeps your money local. Buying from local farmers and butchers boosts your community commerce and economy. According EntryPointMI, 48% of money spent on local businesses is kept in the local economy, compared to only 14% when you spend money on large grocery store chains. Your butcher’s price is going to be as direct as possible; which means you aren’t paying for long-range, cross country shipping and transport. Many butchers, like Byron Center Meats, are family-owned. Your business supports their livelihood and legacy!

Local businesses often give back to the community in the form of donations, participating or hosting events, creating jobs within the community, and supplying locally produced products & services. At Byron Center Meats, we pride ourselves in giving back in the community through charities & donations, supporting local farmers and their own farm stores, and by selling grocery items from a few local businesses around Michigan.

So– look up that interesting Pinterest recipe, fire up your grill, and support your community by shopping at your local butcher. Ditch the chain stores and #shoplocal.

Custom Processing – Beef Your Way

Image created by Byron Center Meats

Why custom processing? Well, you may find yourself in the grocery store trying to decide what steaks to get dinner. Your choices are paper-thin sirloin steaks or an unfamiliar steak that is marked down for the “Butcher’s Special”. You’re pretty sure it may be discounted because the sell-by date was yesterday. Not impressed with the meat selection, you Google, “local butcher near me” to see what else you might find. Or perhaps your a meat enthusiast, ready for your next grill & smoke challenge. Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok show you unique and specialty cuts to order from a local butcher that will wow your guests. So you plug into Google Maps to navigate to the best local butcher shop. Our customers come from all over the state for a variety of reasons, but their customer loyalty is because of one reason only: they love our customizable cut options which compliments our quality service, and the option to utilize custom processing. 

No alt text provided for this image

Increase In Meat Sales

Over the last few years, especially during and after the of COVID-19 pandemic, American shoppers have been buying more meat, sales increased by 19.2% in 2020. Families are going out less and cooking more, driving meat sales higher than they ever have before. They’re looking for quality cuts to cook and fewer quick trips to the store. Introspectively at Byron Center Meats, we’ve seen a greater interest from our customers for quality meat cuts that they can buy in bulk to feed their families or purchasing meat through a farmer for custom processing. The number of beef that we have processed in January up until now [April] has increased by 24% compared to the same time period in 2021. Overall, we’ve seen an upward trend in the number of animals processed over the last three years. What does this tell us? Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in custom processing and are looking for quality and economically-smart ways to feed their families.

Benefits of Custom Processing

No alt text provided for this image

Custom processing comes with it’s biggest perk: custom. Customers truly enjoy thoroughly walking through their cut order, area by area, deciding how it should best be cut for their family. Customers can choose their steak thickness and roast size. Whether you like very thin-cut steaks or two inch-thick cut steaks, custom processing benefits on both ends of the spectrum. Local butchers can size roasts anywhere from 1.5 lbs. for the family of two to 5+ lbs. for feeding a crowd. Customers can also choose to keep certain areas of their animal and grind others. Don’t need the round area for swiss steak or canning meat? That area can easily be ground for more ground beef, which equals more tacos, chili, soups, burgers, or other meals.

Customers have control over which cuts come back to their freezer based on their family needs and meal habits. Customers also have the option to cut specialty steaks and roasts that might otherwise be rare to the typical grocery store. Whether consumers are farm-stores, restaurants, or the family grill, cut customization makes every cutting instruction unique and versatile. Your animal processed your way.

Shop Local. Support Small Businesses.

Byron Center Meats prides itself as a local, home-town business that has over 76 years of experience in providing quality cuts for customers. Our beef cuts have been aged at least 21 days to enhance the flavor and vacuum-sealed to preserve freshness. Customers can shop in our retail store for fresh and frozen cuts or work with local farmers to process at Byron Center Meats. We work closely with farmers to deliver you the best quality product we can for your family. Whether you purchase from BCM or through local farmers, you can pride yourself in supporting local businesses, contributing to local economies, benefitting the environment, and creating a supportive community.

Interested in custom processing? Are you a farmer looking for a quality processor? Are you a company looking to outsource local and quality cuts? Contact us! Your meat, your beef, your way.

Advice on Bison: Stepping Up Your Game On Wild Game


Scenario: you went out with the couple from your neighborhood, you stepped away from free range pork and got adventurous with a shared plate of bison sliders paired with a delightful Pinot Noir; they were to die for. The following week you picked up bison meat because it’s hard to find at times, and now you’re entertaining guests in a couple days. You’re admittedly clueless about this meat and it’s starting to cause actual kitchen nightmares.

If this sounds like an exaggeration, it’s not terribly far off. Cooking game meat isn’t something most people do in their own kitchens on a regular basis. It requires certain different considerations that can be overlooked even with free range pork, grass fed beef, and wild caught Alaskan salmon. Fortunately, once you’ve learned to properly prepare bison, similar strategies can be applied to a range of different wild game meats.

Enough of the introduction to Bison Meat, you have guests to serve so let’s get started.

Lean with it

Hold up there, Gordon Ramsay, don’t go slapping that bison steak on the grill just yet. A three-ounce bison steak serving boasts a lean 122 calories with a whopping 24.2 grams of protein. It’s a fabulous alternative to cooking beef, but it is not beef and shouldn’t be cooked like it. Beef is raised into having fatty, marbled meat (even grass fed steaks). In the wild, there’s no such regulation and the result is much leaner meat that cooks a lot faster. If you cook bison like a free range pork chop or your favorite beef cut, you might over cook the protein.

Slow and low wins with bison. The same theory can be applied to several other wild game meats.

Mind the flavor

Our palates are used to pretty specific flavors. While bison is incredibly delicious, the flavor is mildly different. More intense in comparison with domesticated animal meat, many people love the flavor and find everything else boring, while others find it overpowering our Bison is delicious and you’ll love it. A way to ease yourself and your guests into it is a ground mixture of bison and beef. Sometimes putting bison meat into dishes with other bold flavors helps to blend intensities. Different is delicious, but the process should be considered before plating an entire dinner party.

Don’t fear the wild, you’ve got the chops to lay down five stars at your game dinner. Fortune flavors the bold and with bison, you’ve got all of that and more.

Online Gifting – The Meat Edition



Online gifting is something that is quickly becoming a way of life. In the past companies have made a whole business out of catalog mail order systems, but today it is even easier. According to The Washington Post a third of American adults buy something online with their computer or phone at least once a week. Having the ability to gift people and have it arrive safely at their home or office is now available at the touch of your fingertip. It is a perfect way to send friends, family, employees and clients gifts for any occasion, and what better gift for that occasion than meat? The improvements in shipping have made it possible to ship meat that is frozen and packed with dry ice in an insulated box all over the country!


As an employer, what can you get employees that shows them that says you care about them? Or what can you give clients that goes above and beyond what they might normally expect? Sending someone a gift card is okay, but they go out to eat once and that is all the use that they get out of the gift. However, when you send someone a box of meat they will remember you every time they go in their freezer, grill, cook, and eat. There is no better way to show your appreciation to the ones you care about than sending them something that they will truly enjoy. And what better way to remind your clients of your services and company for a long time.


With technology ordering meat online is very simple. Companies have created fast, user friendly, and secure websites where you can shop in minutes. Most of the time these websites are set up for either two different meat delivery methods. The first method is just being able to purchase when the meat is needed: ordering online just when you want to send a gift, need steaks, have to fill the freezer, or you’re having a cook-out. This method provides the consumer with the means to order when it is convenient for them and does not tie them down to a contract. The second method is a subscription based meat delivery. A subscription based method gives the consumer the luxury of not thinking about when they need meat; it just shows up at their door. However, this might overwhelm the consumer because they have to eat last month’s subscription before the new one arrives or they may have to get a bigger freezer.

Happy Pigs Produce The Best Pork Chop


The Pork Chop

The beginning of any great pork chop recipe is in fact a great pork chop. A great pork chop can go a long way for dinner because there are so many options. There are different marinades, rubs, barbecue sauces, gravies, and an endless amount of cooking possibilities for your pork chop. But where did it all start? It started with the pig itself. A pig that has lived a healthy and stress-free life is more likely to produce tender and flavorful meat. When an animal is under stress, their body produces more stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which causes their meat to be a little tougher and less tender. So, if an animal lives a stress-free lifestyle, they are more likely to produce tender meat. Tenderness is a key factor when serving any meat, especially a pork chop.


A pig that has lived a stress-free lifestyle most likely came from a farm where they could roam and be free-ranging pigs. According to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, “A free-range piggery is one in which the pig herd is rotated on pastures or cropland.” Many people who are not in the pig industry have never seen a pig run; their only thought of a pig is this huge, lazy animal. On the contrary, pigs are natural runners. Pigs with space to run and move around require a lot of work by the farmer. Many farmers that desire the best meat producing pigs are willing to put in the work and have a free-range style piggery. This way of farming becomes their lifestyle.

Where to get free-range pork

In today’s day and age you can buy pork online, you can even buy free-range pork online. Buying pork online is something that is becoming more and more popular. With large amounts of people moving to the cities, there is no longer a connection between the consumer and the farmer. That connection is very valuable because it lets the consumer know how the animal was raised and where the animal was processed, essentially letting the consumer know where their food is coming from. When you buy pork online you can browse around the website, look at videos, and even email the farmer to know exactly where your pork is coming from. This enables people from all over to become connected with and have that relationship with their farmer like they did generations ago.

Planning A Barbecue? Here’s Why You Should Marinate Your Meat


Whether you’ve attained grill mastery or you’re just starting out, there’s one step in your meat preparation that you should never forget: marinating. Not only does it allow you some creative flair with your grilling, it holds a host of other benefits too. And you might not even expect some of them! Keep reading to find out what they are.


Above all else, marinating enhances the flavor of any meat. When you buy grass-fed steaks or wild caught Alaskan salmon, you’re already guaranteed quality. But marinating can help bring out the flavor of your meat while adding some light seasoning to it. Grass fed beef already has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a nice flavor, but a little marinating never hurt anyone. And your choices of herbs and oils are practically limitless!


One of the greatest things about marinating is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as olive oil, lemon juice, and a few basic spices. More experienced or specialty chefs may get a little bit more complex in their recipes, especially for dry rubs, but that’s the beauty of marinating. You can make it whatever you like. Whether you buy grass fed steaks, free range pork, or any other type of meat from local meat farmers, a marinade can help you make it your own.


Believe it or not, there’s actually scientific evidence that marinating is good for you. When cooked at high temperatures, meat can produce Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs). But according to a 2007 study from researchers at Kansas State University, marinating meat can inhibit HCAs from forming. Of course, that doesn’t mean all of the other health precautions around meat can be ignored. Make sure you’re still working on a clean surface and that you disinfect all of your tools after you’ve finished working with the raw meat.

When you buy grass fed steaks online or in a store, you should already have your cooking plan in mind. And if it’s grilling, a marinade is key! What are you waiting for? Grilling season is starting and it’s time to get those marinades ready.

New Beef Bundles Available Now

Coming to Freezers Near You

Looking for something different to do with your tax return this year? Available for limited time only (until March 31)  are two unique beef bundles. These bundles are ready in-store at your convenience, and perfect for filling your freezers for family meals. Both options are all natural meats raised with no antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal by-products.

What You’re Getting

Wagyu Beef Bundle:

Approximately 25 pounds of highly marbled, locally raised American Wagyu beef that is the ultimate in taste and texture.

(2) 2 lb. Chuck Roast
(1) 2 lb. Rolled Rump Roast
(2) 1 lb. Stew Meat
(4) 5 oz. Swiss Steak from Round
(10) 1 lb. Ground Beef Squares
5) 1 lb. Patties (1/3rd, 3 per package)

Sale Price: $189 (Save $20)

100% Grass-Fed Beef Bundle:

Approximately 25 pounds of locally raised grass-fed beef that is full of flavor and so good for you!

(2) 2 lb. Chuck Roast
(1) 2 lb. Rolled Rump Roast
(2) 1 lb. Stew Meat
(4) 5 oz. Swiss Steak from Round
(10) 1 lb. Ground Beef Squares
(5) 1 lb. Patties (1/3rd, 3 per package)

Sale Price: $169 (Save $20)

Want More Options?

Stop in to check out some of our other offers in store, see our monthly specials, or find us at HarvestBox.  We know that you will find something you like!


Creating Something Different

HarvestBox was started in June of 2015 at Byron Center Meats, a third generation, family-owned & operated meat processing company. The idea started when we asked ourselves, “is there a better way to connect families directly with family-owned farms, giving them an avenue to easily purchase thoughtfully raised, healthy meats?” Or as we like to say, “a better way to eat.”

(Then we got to work, and created a video!)

From there, we watered the idea until it came to life. We began to think, how can we deliver products conveniently, safely, and sustainably all throughout the US. We’ve taken the 70 years of meat processing experience gained here at Byron Center Meats and created something new. We’ve brought to you a variety of meat bundles that use whole animal portions in a variety of cuts families will enjoy using every day.

Finally, we sought out long-lasting, trustworthy relationships with only the best family farm partners. Farmers who share our passion for thoughtfully raised, healthy meats. What started as a quick doodle on a napkin (not kidding) came a nation-wide meat delivery with consumers from nearly every state. Today, HarvestBox is a culmination of a lot of good people working hard to do something different in the name of doing something right. We wanted to bring consumers the ‘local meat market’ feel that we have here in Byron Center. (more…)

New Homemade Flavored Brats

We are introducing, just in time for summer grilling, a number of new fresh (uncooked) flavored brats:

–Feta Cheese & Spinach
–Mango Habanero
–Bacon & Bleu Cheese
–Italian Ranch
–Sweet Italian
–Deluxe (Bell peppers & onion)  COMING SOON

And, of course, we still offer our original recipe brats and Kielbasa.  All flavors come with five brats in a package (1 lb) and are priced at $4.29.  Spice up your summer camping or bonfires with these delicious choices! Serve on fresh bakery buns from Little Rooster with Mrs. Dogs or your favorite mustard.


Coming Out of the Stuffer Resize Packaging Machine Resize