Most grocery meat on the meat shelves used to come fresh from local butchers or the store had their own butchers who cut and prepared meat from the back of the store, or behind the main meat counter. They would age the beef, which enhanced the flavor and made the meat tenderer. That isn’t done much anymore – hardly at all! Today, most grocery stores buy their meat pre-packaged. This, in turn, has caused some additives and/or solutions to be added to the meat. Let’s take a look.
Meat Injection Solutions
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This process was predominantly used on turkeys and ham. The process involves using a needle to inject liquids into the meat. This liquid consists of about 30% water, mixed with flavorings and sodium – mainly sodium. The purpose is to keep the meat tenderer and to make it taste better. The truth is, it causes the meat to weigh more, which leads to more profits, and be mushier and softer due to the added moisture. These injectable solutions are alarming high in sodium. Meats that are injected with liquids must state on the label what is in the moisture that was used. Keep in mind this information is usually in very small print. Please check the labels if you want to know if anything has been added to the meat, and if so, what ingredients were added.
The other meat packaging method being used is adding gas to the meat. This is also call ‘Gas-Packaged’ meat. This process is nastier than the meats processed with injectable solutions. This process has been around for quite a while, but has been used more extensively in the last few years as many grocery stores have moved from selling fresh cut meats to selling pre-packaged meat. These gases are used in blends which are primarily made up of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen. The gases help keep the meat red and are mainly used for beef, especially ground beef, which will turn brown after they lose their freshness. These gasses will keep meat red for weeks or even months – even after is has spoiled. Beef traditionally spoils after five days. Sadly, the FDA does not require that gas infused meat be labeled. There are, however, ways to determine if the meat has been gas packaged. Meat wrapped in plastic, tight around the meat is fine. The packaging to watch out for is the clear sealed top that may be a bit puffed out from the gases that are inside. Even more sadly, even if you determine a meat product is gas infused, there is no way to tell which gasses were used because it doesn’t have to be labeled.
Lastly, what about organic meat? Rules for packaging organic meat products do NOT allow gases to be added to packaging as they feel people could wind up consuming spoiled meat. However, injecting the meat is allowed, but the ingredients in the solution is restricted. They don’t allow sodium phosphate. That at least means less water and more in organic meat.
What does this mean for dogs?
When I buy meat at the grocery store, I do check for gassed meat. Usually this is for smaller amounts of product that are less than 16 ounces. Safe meat products are the vacuum packed. I also look at any small print to see if it has had moisture injected. No raw frozen diet for dogs would have either one of these practices performed on them. I often buy meat at the grocery store and most products I would buy for my dogs, which include gizzards, large pork or beef roasts, do not have injected juices or added gasses. I don’t see anything in these practices that would harm or cause reactions in dogs, EXCEPT if the meat has been gassed and is now spoiled. When humans buy these, they cook these products and can avoid food poisoning, unless they get in a hurry and don’t cook the meats as thoroughly as needed. One big topic for dogs is what is injected in chicken? But now you know how to look, what to look for and you know that whatever is injected must on the label! Be your own meat detective!
I hope I have removed some of the mystery of what can and cannot be put into packaged meat products and I hope you find some comfort knowing you won’t find any of this in frozen raw dog food. If you prefer to buy your meat and make your own raw dog food, you can also look to local farms that sell what they butcher. Oftentimes, you can buy certain parts, or half a cow, and have them cut it and package it for you. The same is with chicken and pork.