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.