Choosing the right meat

April 11, 2019

Visit any Fijian supermarket and butcher around the country and you will be met with countless advertisements and freezer displays full of meat for sale. From all manner of beef, poultry, lamb cuts and various seafood selections, consumers in Fiji are spoiled for choice when it comes to satisfying their meat cravings. 

With this expanded range, consumers seek value for their money and will look to purchase the most appetizing selections of meat for themselves. Unfortunately, the Council has observed through their market surveillance that traders are selling meat which is visibly discoloured and which gives off a foul smell. This is extremely concerning, hence is important for consumers to know what to look for when choosing good quality meat and how to understand the tell-tale signs of bad or aged meat.

What to consider when selecting meat 

To choose the correct meat the following must be considered:

  • The right cut – The cut means which part of the animal the meat is from. Good meat comes from the back of the animal that is from the loin, rib and rump. This part is usually a lot tenderer than the front part which includes the legs, flank and shoulder.
  • Appearance – Meat should be virtually free from defects such as bruises, discolouration, feathers and should not have broken bones. There should be no tears in the skin or exposed flesh that could dry out during cooking. Also, whole birds and parts should be fully fleshed and meaty. The surface of the meat should not be too dry or too wet, neither should it have any blood splashes on it.
  • Colour – The natural colour of the meat should be bright red, except the poultry one. The meat which is not fresh will no longer show the bright red colour. Sometimes due to the partial destruction of the red meat pigment, it results in the brown, grey and greenish colour of the meat.
  • Smell – The smell of fresh meat is slightly acidic. Any foul smelling meat should be avoided completely. Similarly a foul smell emanating from freezers or meat sections in supermarkets is an indicator that the meat on sale is unfit for consumption.
  • Firmness – Any meat which is fresh will neither be too soft nor too tough. You can test it by poking it. It should slightly get pressed and then should come back to its original shape. Anything which doesn’t come back to the original shape or is too tight to poke has been on the shelf for too long.
  • Shops – Buy meat from shops that have freezers/refrigerators. Never buy the meat that is wrapped in paper. Meat should always be stored in the freezer and carried in vapour resisting wrapping materials.

Packaged meat

Some consumers who are in a rush purchase packaged meat because they do not wish to stand in line and select from a display of meat from the supermarket. Others may be of the assumption that packaged meat is generally cheaper and therefore a better option. 

But this analogy may not necessarily be true as some traders may package meat to hide defects and sell at lower prices to clear stock. When purchasing packaged meat, it is crucial for consumers to consider the following:

  • Meat should be firm when chilled;
  • The darker meat, the richer taste. The colour should be clear, deep and red;
  • Avoid meat that is brown at the edges or greyish;
  • The meat should be firm and dry, never wet and wobbly;
  • Streak of fat in lean meat gives juicier meat and more taste;
  • The pieces should be evenly and carefully cut;
  • Avoid processed, pre-spiced, pre-marinated meat – which may be produced from lower quality cuts; and
  • Smell, look, feel and rely on your own judgment in choosing quality meat 

Council’s collaboration with authorities 

The Council urges consumers to note the advice of the Council and to ensure they exercise their responsibilities by carefully checking any meat they wish to purchase. This will help to ensure that they do not face any health risks while consuming the product. 

Consumers who come across cases of traders selling putrid meat are urged to contact the Consumer Council on toll free number 155 or email