Another "Can I Eat This" Query
August 27, 2007 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Can I marinate beef past the sell-by date? I've bought a piece of chuck pot roast and just made the marinade for Mark Bittman's Vinegar-Marinated Pot Roast recipe. Bittman's recipe suggest marinating the meat for up to 3 days; the date on the package comes due is in two. Will the marinade, made up primarily of wine and vinegar, allow the meat to last past the date (and I have no idea if it's a sell-by or serve-by date - I'm recently eating beef again after about a 13 year hiatus), or should I plan on cooking this tomorrow? Ideally, I'd like to cook this on Thursday, but I don't want to kill my family.
posted by bibliowench to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You'll be fine- nothing to worry about.
posted by solongxenon at 5:48 PM on August 27, 2007

As long as you've bought the meat from a reputable source, I certainly wouldn't worry about it. The date on the package tends to be the "sell by" date; I've not heard of a serve-by date w/r/t raw meat. Keep the beef in the fridge while it's marinating (which is likely what Bittman tells you to do) and enjoy it on Thursday.
posted by cooker girl at 5:53 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: You'll be plenty fine regardless of whether you marinate the chuck roast prior to cooking it.

If serving food one day after its sell-by date were dangerous, there'd be so many lawsuits against supermarkets and packagers that the entire grocery industry would grind to a crashing halt.
posted by dersins at 5:54 PM on August 27, 2007

Nothing will magically happen to make your beef go bad overnight - keep it in the dark and it won't even know what day it is! It will be fine for quite a while after the date, with or without the marinade.
posted by nowonmai at 5:55 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm sure you'll be fine. If you are still worried, you could always cut a day from the marinade time. 3 days seems a bit long for a piece of meat to me.
posted by ReiToei at 5:58 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer:
The finest steak restaurants in the world will cure the beef for 3+ months before serving.

Just saying :)

You'll be fine.
posted by lundman at 6:09 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: I wouldn't give it a second thought. Wine + vinegar + refrigeration = bad environment for bugs. What you've basically got there is a mild pickling solution.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:36 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: As long as the chain of refrigeration hasn't been broken, and you are planning to keep the marinating beef refrigerated, I'm sure it'll be fine.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:46 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: Also, it's not as if you'll be cooking it rare, and wondering if it's hot enough to be safe. The muscle tissue in chuck roast is already tough, so you have to cook it until the connective tissue breaks down into gelatin and the meat starts falling apart. By that point I'm guessing that any bugs that may be hanging around are pretty well denatured too.
posted by rossmik at 7:07 PM on August 27, 2007

I would check the date on the meat and see if it says "Best before" or "Use by". In Australia at least it's the "Use by" you need to worry about and I would never eat meat past the "Use by" date, but "Best before" is generally just a rough guidelines as to when you should eat it.

I guess weigh up if the cost of the meat is offset by the possible risk of food poisoning - is $X worth the risk? I always tend to throw meat out if I think it's iffy, but that's just me as I don't enjoy eating it if I'm worried it's going to make me sick.
posted by katala at 8:02 PM on August 27, 2007

Use your senses and your best judgment. The sell-by date is only a guideline to help you do that. If the meat looks and smells ok, and you're handling and storing the meat safely, then one day after the sell-by date shouldn't make a difference.
posted by Tehanu at 9:46 PM on August 27, 2007

Lundman and Joe's Spleen are right.

People have been eating dodgy meat for eons, hence the age old use of spices and marinades to cover bad smell or taste.

An extra day in the fridge won't make the meat lethal. The sell-by date is generally shorter than the "becomes a safety risk" date because of the slight off-putting odor and discoloration that comes from oxidation on the surface.
posted by willconsult4food at 8:09 AM on August 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the common sense advice. As I said in my question, I'm a prodigal carnivore, and I've been descending through various stages of vegetarianism (vegan, lacto/ovo, pesco, pollo, prosciutto) for most of the time that I've been feeding myself. I've seen the light - meat is tasty, tasty murder - but I still fear that it's also culinary plutonium if I'm the slightest bit cavalier with it. Basically, I'm afraid of a lot of my food, especially the dismembered animal parts.

Having 12 sensible people (including one medical professional) educating me about the realities of meat-handling (dirty?) have calmed me down to the point where I can get back to playing housewife.

So, Thanks. Hopefully, I won't be posting a salmonella-related question next week.
posted by bibliowench at 10:09 PM on August 28, 2007

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