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. 

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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

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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.