Man has always tried to obtain the maximum profit from the foods he produces by using different commercial as well as household transformation techniques. Mincing meat is a clear example of this: pieces of meat which are not in great demand or must be sold for a low price because they are not very tender or have too much connective tissue may be sold this way. To the point where minced meat is transformed into a product that sells well for use in different recipes or to be made into hamburgers.
But this type of meat has a bad reputation because it is said that the meat used to make it is of very low quality, that it contains forbidden additives or too much fat, and that it poses possible health hazards.
When meat is not minced in front of the customer it logically and regularly contains meat that cannot be sold well, but this does not mean that these pieces have a low nutritional quality or are not healthy. If you buy packaged minced meat, the label unfortunately is only required to show what animal species it comes from and the percentages. The maximum limit of fat must be indicated. If it is under 7% it means that the meat is lean.
If you want to know the provenance of minced meat, you will have to ask the butcher to mince it in front of you. But you should first ask him to cut off the fat and connective tissue.
Nowadays additives are banned in minced meat, although they were widely used in the past to help maintain its reddish colour and lengthen its shelf life. The problem is that minced meat is a highly perishable product because it presents a large surface area for the development of bacteria, and because bacteria grow easily in the juices produced by mincing.
This is why it is usually found already minced but including additives in supermarkets and hypermarkets. In this case it must be labelled preparado cárnico (meat preparation) and not carne picada (minced meat). To circumvent this legal requirement, non-regulated designations are used, such as picada de ternera (minced beef). You must read the small print to be able to tell them apart. This way the minced meat has a longer expiration date and keeps its colour longer. Still, it must be stressed that there is nothing wrong in principle with these meat preparations, but you must know the difference.
In any case, it is essential to always keep minced meat refrigerated. It must be frozen or kept under two degrees Celsius while for sale, and you should put it in the coldest part of the fridge when you reach your home. Finally, you should use it within 24 hours after its purchase if you do not freeze it.
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