#7. When buying pre-packaged steaks, take a careful look at the package.
Only some supermarkets have a butcher counter where you can purchase unpackaged steaks or ask the butcher to cut something special. In these situations, you’ll likely find pre-packaged steaks wrapped in plastic on Styrofoam trays. There is nothing wrong with purchasing steaks this way as long as you pay attention.
If you find the tray has excess liquid, this may indicate the meat has been frozen and then thawed, or it could mean the meat has been sitting around too long in the case. You also want to look at the packaging.
If the Styrofoam tray is cracked or the plastic wrap is torn, please look at another package for purchase. Do the store a favor and bring the broken package to their attention so they can repackage it.
The next thing to do is check the label for the “sell-by” date. This is when a store must sell the meat or remove it from the display. According to Jimmy Kerstein, some stores may not call it the “sell-buy” date but use other more confusing descriptions like “pack date,” “suggested use,” “freeze-by date,” or even use freeze-by” date.
Ask the butcher or store manager if you don’t understand these terms.
You never want to purchase steaks past the sell-by date, and if you find steaks that appear to look older than fresh-looking steaks but have the same sell-by date, it may be the steaks were “repackaged and re-dated,” a big no-no and something you should bring to the attention of the store.