Why Do Vacuum Packed Pork Smells Bad?

Vacuum Packed Pork Smells Bad
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Vacuum Packed Pork Smells Bad

The beauty about vacuum packed meat, whether it be pork, beef, mutton, or chicken, is that it can last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. Pork is delicious and can be used in so many exciting recipes.

So when you buy fresh meat, such as pork, you would normally keep it in your fridge for a day or two before cooking it.

However, with the technology of being able to vacuum-pack meat, you no longer have to contend with freezer burn, and the texture, taste, and juices of the meat are all kept fresh. If pork is vacuum packed, its shelf life is roughly 10 to 14 days.

Vacuum Packed Pork Smells Bad

Supermarkets use what is known as cryovac sealing, and this is what keeps oxygen away from meat. It preserves the meat, but sometimes pieces of tissue break down inside the packaging and release sulfur. This is the smell you get when you open the vacuum packaging.

Vacuum packaging extends pork’s shelf life

In this modern world we live in, many foods are vacuum packed, and because meat is such a perishable item, vacuum sealing is able to extend its shelf life. It prevents its exposure to air and the development of bacteria.

Pork in a vacuum sealed package has its freshness and taste preserved, whether it’s pork ribs, pork tenderloin, or some other pork cuts.

But, if this is true, and vacuum packed pork’s freshness is preserved, then why does the meat smell bad when you open the packaging? Is the pork still edible? You can’t just accept that all vacuum packed meat is safe. Nobody wants to purchase expired pork.

Labeling meat products with a sell-by date isn’t federally mandated, but a reputable, hygienic retailer nearly always labels raw pork with product dates.

Check the vacuum packaging because if the sell-by-date is long past, you can take your pork back to the store where you bought it and have them change it for you. You can leave the pork in its original packaging in the fridge as long as it does not have any tears or cracks.

Vacuum-packed meat on a wooden board
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Vacuum packaged pork looks and smells different to fresh pork

Anyone trying vacuum packed pork for the first time needs to realize that pork bought from the local supermarket will have been processed and packaged differently than the pork you buy from the butcher.

The vacuum packed pork will look and smell different from the raw meat you buy from the butcher. Pork from vacuum packaging needs to be nice and firm with a pinkish color. You still need to check the meat. The reason for a bad smell might well be due to old meat.

There should be no openings whatsoever in the vacuum packaged pork. Never buy a meat item whose seals have been damaged. Old pork can’t be eaten at all.

Be wise with packaged meat

When buying any kind of vacuum packed meat, you need to be a wise shopper. The vacuum packed pork may well have the right packaging and all the right sell-by dates, but if the pork wasn’t kept cold enough during transport and storage, then spoilage will have occurred.

Buyer hands with beef meat packages at the grocery store
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Meat that has been badly transported and stored will certainly impact the shelf life of the meat and its quality. It is wise to shop at a reputable store that follows strict food safety regulations.

Always determine the general impression of the store and make sure that it is hygienically clean and organized, for your own health’s sake. As suggested, when meat is vacuum packed, all oxygen is removed to ensure freshness. This may result in your meat changing color.

This doesn’t mean that your meat has gone bad, and in fact, once the packaging is opened and the meat exposed to oxygen, its color is restored.

Meats can release gas

Meats, however, can release gas in the vacuum-sealed bag, and this is what gives them a nasty sulfuric smell when you open the packaging. It is totally normal for the meat to smell off-ish after opening the package.

Woman putting raw meat in refrigerator
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Whenever you buy vacuum-packed pork, it’s your responsibility to check the packaging. If the plastic is flabby and loose, there’s a good chance that the packaging has been punctured and oxygen may have entered.

These dangerous air holes will have allowed bacteria to spoil the meat, and ingesting it could be fatal. The meat will have a slimy texture, and there is simply no way that you can eat the meat.

So the most obvious reason is the lack of oxygen in the packaging. The smell can always vary, but most people describe it as having a sulfur-like smell.

People want to rinse the smell away

Most people, when they understand the reason behind the unpleasant smell, want to do something about it. There are a few things you can do –

Raw fresh meat Steak Striploin on cutting board drying up excess moisture with paper towel
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  1. Remove the pork from the packaging and allow it to air for about half an hour at regular room temperature. You’ll notice that a lot of the smell will disappear.
  2. Rinse the meat off gently by simply dipping the pork in a bowl of fresh, cool water.
  3. Gently pat the meat dry on both sides with paper towels.
  4. Once the meat is properly dry, rest it on a paper towel for about 15 minutes. You’ll see that the meat has returned to its regular color and also has its natural raw-meat smell.
  5. Your meat is ready for cooking.

Remember, this step of allowing your pork cuts to air, followed by a rinse, isn’t necessary. It can be skipped. It’s just for those who can’t tolerate working with the meat when it smells so bad.

It’s normal to get a bad smell with vacuum packaged pork

Fresh Pork rib in plastic pack set
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When you buy your vacuum packed pork from a reliable source, you will know that all the air surrounding the food product has been removed to prevent the possibility of bacteria growing on the meat.

You’re always going to get a bad smell when you open vacuum-packed meat, but once you know the basics of vacuum packaging, and what to look out for, you’re ‘A’ for ‘Away’.

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