To buy: Select beef with a bright cherry-red color, without grayish or brown blotches. The exception is vacuum-packaged beef, which, in the absence of oxygen, has a darker purplish-red color; when exposed to the air, it turns bright red. Look for beef that is firm to the touch, not soft.Make sure the package is cold and has no holes or tears.Choose packages without excessive liquid.For highest quality, buy beef before the sell-by date.
To store: Upon arriving home, immediately store beef in refrigerator meat compartment or coldest part of refrigerator. Beef wrapped in transparent film requires no additional wrapping, but you may want to place it in a plastic bag to protect against leakage. Ground meats are more perishable than roasts or steaks. During grinding, any bacteria on the surface are mixed throughout the meat, resulting in shorter shelf life.Immediately freeze any ground beef you don't plan to use within 24 hours. It can be frozen in its original transparent wrap for up to two weeks. For longer storage, prevent freezer burn by rewrapping in moisture-proof material such as freezer paper, food-safe plastic freezer bags, or heavy-duty aluminum foil.To defrost beef safely, place on a tray in the refrigerator the day before needed. Never refreeze meat that has been defrosted.
To cook: Patties/loaves/meatballs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees (medium doneness) until the centers are no longer pink and the juices show no pink color. The most accurate way to determine doneness is with an instant-read thermometer.
Source: Ohio Beef Council