Gone are the days when advertisements were the key sources of information for consumers. In current times, individuals are becoming more health-conscious and are slowly paying attention to nutritional labels on packaged food items to educate themselves before deciding. Meat, chicken, and fish are well-known sources of various vitamins and minerals and protein. They are one of the highest protein sources, consisting of all nine essential amino acids that are extremely vital for the human body. But packaged animal products come with the downside of preservatives and chemicals that can harm your body in the long run, making it imperative for the consumers to be rightly informed when buying packaged animal protein products and watching out for aspects like:
Appearance: The appearance, especially (colour) of the packaged meat, is a good parameter to gauge the freshness of the product. Make sure that the meat you purchase is of white or light pink colour. There shouldn’t be any bruises, blood clots or green tinge on the meat. Vacuum-packed meat might be slightly brown in colour. Check that no pungent odour is present in the meat, and the texture must be firm with the good muscle fibre. Dark wingtips are also a sign of spoilage. A strong odour and sticky feel indicate that the poultry is spoiled.
Packaged liquid or antibiotic-free: Ensure that the meat is not watery or translucent; yellow fat means old meat. Similarly, look for the “organic’’ label while buying packaged meat as such food items are certified by FSSAI.
Storage process: Freezing is the best way to keep your meat safe and sound. Packaged raw meat can safely last for around three days in the freezer. Storage temperature also plays a vital role in keeping your meat safe. Make sure to keep the temperature to 0°F (-17.8°C) to keep the meat fresh and to maintain its nutritional profile. To prevent cross-contamination in the grocery cart or your refrigerator, always place poultry in plastic bags to keep juices from leaking or dripping onto other food items
Chemical and preservative free: Chemicals and preservatives are substances that assist in preventing damage to the food. But artificial preservatives like nitrates and nitrites generally found in packaged animal products are usually associated with various health complications like cell damage and cancer. Always check the label before buying and go for products with the preservative or chemical free logo.
Look out for the ‘Soy Fed’ label: Like humans, livestock, poultry, and fish also acquire their protein from dietary sources. When fed with high-quality feed, such as soy, these animal-based proteins are of better quality as the primary protein source. With its superior amino acid profile and amino acid digestibility, Soy feed has a tremendous impact on the growth and development of animals. This is why the public health initiative Right To Protein has introduced India’s first voluntary feed label for packaged protein products such as poultry, meat and fish. The ‘Soy Fed’ product label will help us distinguish high-quality animal protein sources fed with soy and make an informed choice. So, the next time you are loading your cart with protein products, make sure you lookout for the ones that feature the Soy Fed label.