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8+ Things to Know About Minimally Processed Meat

8+ Things to Know About Minimally Processed Meat

In a world where most people have yet to learn where their food truly comes from, it is a good idea to know at least what to look for when buying meat, mainly minimally processed meats. Minimally processed meats help balance your sodium levels while still eating good-tasting protein. 

Minimally processed meat is excellent for people looking for a way to eat meat without inflating their sodium levels. This is because minimally processed meats don’t contain preservatives and additives like other processed meats and therefore are a healthier and tastier option.  

Minimally processed meats are generally more expensive than processed meats because they are prime cuts and because of their short shelf life. So here are a couple of things to know about minimally processed meat and what to look out for. 

What Is Considered As Minimally Processed Meat?

Meat that has been minimally processed has had virtually no changes made after it was slaughtered. The primary benefit of purchasing minimally processed meats is the increased culinary freedom it affords the consumer. In contrast, processed meat aims to ensure the product’s longevity for the end customer. More on that later.

Minimally Processed Meat Has A Shorter Shelf Life

Fresh, whole cuts, portioned, or frozen bits of protein with no preservatives or additives make up minimally processed meat. Fresh protein has a very short shelf life of about 3-5 days in the fridge. Frozen and vacuum-sealed meat products can last between 3-12 months in the freezer

Other minimally processed meats include meat that has been freshly ground from entire cuts and meat that has previously been frozen or chilled shortly after slaughter. 

Proteins that have undergone little processing include those where the inedible or unpalatable components have been removed. The product is then either sold as is or preserved by freezing and vacuum sealing. Cutting into smaller portions and seasoning the meat is also considered minimally processed.

Some examples of benefits of eating minimally processed include.

  • You receive fresher meat products
  • It has a natural taste  
  • The healthier option since there are no preservatives or additives
  • Fewer chemicals and fillers are added
  • Helps local farmers and small businesses  

Things To Know About The Dangers Of Processed Meats

Although minimally processed and processed can be wildly different, it depends on the manufacturer, so it is essential to read the packaging before buying processed meat. In general, it is required by law to properly label food products, including meat, with information about how it was processed and whether or not preservatives were added.

The only thing that really poses a threat to minimally processed meats is if they have been stored improperly and for longer than the acceptable amount of time. 

Things To Know About Minimally Processed Vs Processed

Additives and preservatives are used in processed meat to extend its shelf life and reduce food waste. However, most preservatives added to processed meat can damage your health, as much processed meat contains high amounts of sodium (salt) and chemicals.

Even though salt does not pose a health risk and is essential in transmitting nerve impulses to muscles in your body. About 500 milligrams (mg) of salt per day is required for these fundamental processes in the body.

However, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke risk are all linked to overeating salt. As a result, ensuring that one’s salt consumption remains in a state of equilibrium is absolutely necessary.

Minimally processed meats should not contain added preservatives and may be the best option to reduce chemical intake. Meats with additional preservatives are best avoided by purchasing more significant cuts and dividing them for cooking at home.

While it’s true that processed meats, in general, have greater salt levels, it’s also true that eating them in moderation can be OK.

Minimally Processed Meat Supports Local Farmers And Businesses

Eating minimally processed meat is healthy and can help local farmers, as small-scale farms often produce minimally processed meats. Eating minimally processed meat could promote a more sustainable local economy.   

What Does Minimally Processed Mean On Ground Beef?

Meat that has been minimally processed has remained relatively the same from its natural state after being ground for consumption. Beef that has undergone minimal processing include, but is not limited to, those that have been quickly frozen or refrigerated after being slaughtered or ground from whole cuts of meat. 

Compared to beef products that have been overly processed, minimally processed ground beef is preferable. Because it has simply transformed from a whole to a ground state with no added chemicals or fillers.

What Processed Meats To Avoid?

Many processed types of meat are high in salt, preservatives, and other additives, so eating them in moderation or avoiding them altogether is generally advised. Smoked processed meat may be delicious, but it is some of the worst processed meat you can eat. 

Listed below are some processed meats that should be avoided or eaten in moderation.

Bacon, ham, salami, beef jerky, sausages, hotdogs, and other types of lunch meats are examples of processed meats that include salt and other preservatives. Try to use as few of these when cooking at home as possible. Also, avoid making these products a regular part of your diet and instead enjoy them on special occasions.

What Is The Least Processed Meat?

Fresh fish like salmon in sushi might be the best example of the least processed meat. The least processed meats are whole cuts of meat that have yet to be butchered and cut into portions.

Except for fat that may have been trimmed and other unpleasant bits removed, there is no difference between a fresh cut of recently butchered meat and larger chunks of meat that have not been portioned.

Meat cuts like steaks, roasts, and chops that have not been cured, smoked, or otherwise preserved in any other way, and whole or portioned fish and poultry like turkey, chicken, and duck also fit into this category. 

Other minimally processed meats include ground meat that has not been formed into patties or manipulated in any other way. In addition, ground meat that has not been combined with other ingredients is minimally processed meat. 

What Does Minimally Processed Mean On Chicken?

The term “minimally processed chicken” refers to chicken that has not undergone much additional processing after being slaughtered and having its unwanted bits removed. This includes unprocessed chicken products such as fresh chicken breasts, thighs, and wings. 

Minimally processed chicken includes unbreaded, unseasoned, unformed chicken that has undergone the bare minimum of processing. However, it may have been frozen or refrigerated to increase its shelf life. 


Meat that has been minimally processed retains its original composition and flavor as much as possible. No chemicals or preservatives were used in the preparation. It may have been cut, trimmed, frozen, vacuum sealed, or ground. Compared to severely processed meat, which often contains additives and preservatives, minimally processed meat is healthier.