#7. When buying pre-packaged steaks, take a careful look at the package.
Not every supermarket has a butcher counter where you can purchase unpackaged steaks or ask the butcher to cut something special for you. In these situations, you’re likely to find pre-packaged steaks sitting on Styrofoam trays and wrapped in plastic. There is nothing wrong with purchasing steaks this way as long as you pay attention.
If you find the tray has excess liquid in it, 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, look at another package for purchasing. You may want to 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 “sell-by” date. This is the date that 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 or freeze-by” date.
If you don’t understand what these terms mean, by all means ask the butcher or store manager.
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.