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Beef and Pork Buyer’s Guide

Shopping tips for getting the best value when you buy beef and pork.

If you love meat there are plenty of good reasons to keep it in your diet. Just be choosy about the cuts you buy—some are lean while others are loaded with fat. It’s important to watch your portions too. A reasonable portion size of meat is 3 ounces cooked: that’s a piece of steak about as big as deck of cards. Here are some things to look for when you’re buying beef and pork at the supermarket to help you make healthier choices.

 

Shopping Tips for Pork

Look for pork that is light red to cherry red, never pale or white. The fat should be white and creamy with no dark spots. Fresh pork should never have any off odors. The best-tasting pork is marbled with flecks of fat interspersed in the lean meat.

Avoid pale, soft pork sitting in the package in liquid. This pork is called PSE (pale, soft and exudative) and indicates pork that comes from animals mishandled during processing. When you push down on the pork it will not spring back and when you cook it even more juices will flow out. The meat will be dry and tasteless even when cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Alert the manager at your store that you got bad meat.

Because lean pork can dry out so quickly when cooked, many manufacturers sell something called “enhanced” pork. It is injected with a solution of water, salt and phosphates. The percentage of water is usually around 8 to 10 percent. It has a soft, rubbery texture and a slightly acrid or bitter taste.

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