We all want to eat right and we all want to choose the healthiest foods from what our local markets have to offer. Many times, what we think is healthy and fresh simply isn’t. For many people, a butcher shop is, not a familiar territory. So, how do you know if your local butcher is operating correctly?
What are some things to watch out for when choosing the right butcher?
We have compiled a list of criteria that we think is important and what we should expect from our butcher shops. Use this list to pick the right butcher for you to provide the healthiest meats to feed your family.
Cleanliness is a crucial must as bad bacteria grows on meat at a very rapid pace. To keep meat uncontaminated a clean butchery must be maintained. Clean knives and machinery must be used and the shop pest free. Bloody rags and aprons should be out of the customer’s sight and counters should be wiped clean.
Display cases and shelving must be cleansed on a regular basis. The butcher should also wear plastic gloves when handling the customer’s chosen cuts. If your butcher sells both cooked and uncooled selections, make sure that they are displayed in different areas. They should not be side by side.
Also, your butcher should keep the different kinds of meats displayed together, chicken with chicken and lamb with lamb, etc. to avoid cross contamination. The butcher’s and employee’s personal hygiene is also a serious matter. Illness, open wounds, unbound hair, all contribute to contaminated meat.
2. OPEN COMMUNICATION
You want to find a butcher that can tell you where the meat came from. Is it local? Is it fresh? Was it grain or grass fed? Can they tell you about the meat and have enough knowledge to recommend certain cuts for your recipe and explain their recommendations?
A good butcher should be willing to talk about his meat and should be happy to help you decide which to purchase. They will also be willing to talk you out of an expensive cut when a cheaper cut will work just as well.
3. FRESH MEAT
Many butcher shops or supermarkets will buy meat already vacuum sealed and boxed up ready for shipment. They really do not know how old the meat is nor do they care because they got a deal on the product. Once they receive it and unbox it and put it on the shelf for customers to buy, who knows how long that meat has been circulating.
To know that your meat is fresh choose a butcher that buys whole animals. This way he knows his cuts and how old each is and how long it has been on his shelves.
4. UP TO DATE MACHINERY,
REFRIGERATION, AND STAFFING
Modern or quality operating machinery should be used. Sharpened blades should always be used so the meat will not be bruised. Correct refrigeration should also be used as contamination begins once the meat reaches over 5 degrees C.
A good butcher should be conscious of his product and will make the extra efforts to keep contamination from happening. Also, all staff should know the governmental guidelines and adhere to them. Staff should be trained in meat and customer service.
5. GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES
The Environmental Health Officers and the Food Standards Agency helps to create the “Safe Food Handling for Butchers” guide, these agencies worked alongside several consulting butchers to create a guide so complete as to be a blueprint that all butchers must adhere to.
These guidelines are not only on the safe handling of meat but also on each meat’s hygiene requirements, display and proper processing regulations. These governmental rules must be followed and any reputable butcher should follow them.
If you feel a butcher is not complying with these guidelines then you must try not buy from him agian to make sure you don't get inferior quality meat.