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The History of Absorbent Meat Pads

While the name sounds distasteful, absorbent meat pads play an important role in meat packaging. The water content of meat can be as high as 75% and once it is packaged, that moisture slowly begins to release. A wet environment creates a hotbed for illness-causing bacteria to develop. That’s where absorbent meat pads come in. Placed on the bottom of a package of meat, they absorb the meat juices and keep the environment inside the package from becoming too wet, which can invite a whole host of harmful bacteria. In doing so, they also help extend the shelf life of the meat. Additionally, absorbent meat pads help reduce food waste. Many people are often “grossed out” by juices in meat packaging and have been known to avoid purchasing packages of meat that are safe to eat but look unattractive. While they may not be very attractive themselves, absorbent meat pads help packages look more appealing, leading to viable food actually being purchased rather than being left on the shelf until it is no longer fit for consumption. Because they come into contact with food, these porous pads are highly regulated and are typically made up of a silica gel or cellulose core covered by a perforated plastic sheet. Most absorbent meat pads are capable of holding around 50 grams of organic juices each. Some newer absorbent meat pads are made with polyvinyl alcohol, agarose, and purple sweet potato anthocyanins. Beyond keeping meat from becoming dangerously moist, they also provide life-extending antioxidants to the meat they come into contact with and are designed to signal whether or not the packaged meat is still safe to consume using color-changing technology. While they are not reusable or recyclable, absorbent meat pads are unlikely to go away any time soon, as they play a vital role in food safety.

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