Feeding raw comes with its risks. Let's say you're new to this. You're feeling courageous, go to the butcher shop or the grocery store, and buy a fresh-looking piece of meat (whatever it may be). You feel gooooood! You get home, open the package, and see some brown spots on the beef or the chicken looks a bit greyish. Is it bad? What do you do? You think, 'Crap! Do I chance it?'. Here are three very important inspection areas to check off your list before serving raw meat to animals.
1. ODOR. Foul odors mean business! This is Nature's way of saying that the food is no longer edible. Raw meat doesn't have a strong odor. Livers may have a slight metallic smell. Secreting organs like kidneys, spleens, and thymuses may have distinct odors, but not foul or rotting ones. Muscle meat is usually without odor as well. Rotting, foul, putrid, or rancid odors are signs the meat should be thrown out. Trust your nose. Spoilt beef will have an ammonia or sulfur-like odor. Raw meat will smell fresh, just raw. In time, you'll be a pro---your nose will be able to pick a foul smelling piece of meat out of a lineup.
2. TEXTURE. Texture will help when determining meat freshness. Raw meat should be firm, consistent, without soft or jelly-like areas. It's not exactly the same, but when a peach starts to spoil, you'll feel certain areas go soft and ooze juice. Raw meat going bad will have areas where the spoilage starts; it doesn't magically turn green and slimy all at once. Slimy, sticky, glue-like meat texture indicates bacterial growth and thus, should be discarded.
3. COLOR. Color of meat is another good indicator of freshness. Poultry is usually yellow to light nude and beef is red to deep red, almost purple, depending on oxygen exposure. The colors to stay away from are green, grey, and blue. Once you see a green hint of color, you can expect the odor to be unpleasant too. This meat should not be used. Color is not the primary indicator. When meat is green, that means it's been spoiling for a while.
You can't always trust the "sell by" date. Several times over the years, I've purchased bad chicken and seafood that looked fine, but upon close inspection, they didn't pass. So, back to the store or into the trash they went. Be careful. Your decision can mean the difference between a sick animal and a healthy one. Read about proper handling and preparation of raw food here.