Did you know that 30 states do not regulate the expiration dates that stores put on meat? And did you know that just because a product is labeled ‘Organic’ doesn’t necessarily mean it was grown organically? There are a few things to know before you buy so that you know if you are getting what you think you’re paying for.


The first thing you need to know is what fresh meat ‘should’ look like. Raw pork, when fresh and not starting to go bad is a grayish pink color. Ground beef should be anywhere from bright red to purplish red, slightly brown-red is OK as well. Poultry is bluish white to yellow in color. Notice we didn’t mention any green? Don’t buy it if there are any signs of green or dark brown whatsoever.

Next, check the sticker! When retailers butcher and package meats themselves, they can change labels whenever they want. If a date sticker has another sticker placed on top of it, find another package. This saves time and most grocers will simply overlay a new sticker if they think the meat is still good and change the sell-by date.

They may take the time to remove the old sticker, in which case you should familiarize yourself with how each type of meat actually looks when fresh. We went over that above, but just know that when they change the sticker or overlay one with a new one, that meat is older than other packages.

Fruits and Vegetables

When you buy organic, you should be looking for more than just a label that says organic. Truly organic vegetables and fruits will be grown organically – not just grown from organic seeds. On each fruit or vegetable, there is a PLU label which stands for price look-up. The code on that label means something.

  • Organic – 5-digit number beginning with 9
  • Not Organic – 4-digit number beginning with 3 or 4
  • Genetically Modified – 5-digit code beginning with 8

PLU codes are mandatory, so you’ll find them at any store, on every fruit or vegetable. With genetically modified fruits and vegetables, very little is known about the long-term effects of consumption.