I picked up some beef at the grocery store yesterday and was puzzled by the date on the label. I honestly don't pay too much attention to the dates on meat while at the grocery store, but when I got home and went to put a package of premade beef patties in the fridge, the use/freeze by date caught my eye. I bought these patties on May 10.

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19 days seemed like a long time to be able to store meat in the refrigerator, so of course, I Googled it and learned that fresh beef lasts in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. I got the beef patties from Hannaford Supermarket, so I knew it was fresh. The label must be a misprint, right?

I shared the photo of the label on my Facebook page and some assumed it had added preservatives, which I knew wasn't the case. Then I heard from someone who works at Hannaford who told me the date isn't a misprint and it all has to do with the packaging.

The ground beef on the left I grabbed from the freezer for this picture. The patties on the right are the ones I just bought.

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Notice the difference in packaging? There's something unique about the patties.

Cheryl Harmon works for Hannaford and explained the long use by date on my Facebook page:

"The premade patties are in a type of packaging called MAP (Modified Atmospheric Packaging). Essentially, all the air is pumped out and CO2 pumped in (vacuum sealed) allowing for a longer shelf life. The product is 100% pure ground beef....no preservatives or chemicals. The other ground beef you typically buy is on a styrofoam tray and wrapped with plastic wrap which does allow some air in, hence the shorter shelf life on those products. This packaging is not unique to Hannaford....you can go to Shaw's, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Wegmans, Walmart and see these same kinds of extended sell by dates on their vacuum sealed products."

File this one under "You Learn Something New Every Day."

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