What You Should Know Before Buying Steak Online

A great steak is among the finer things in life, but getting one can sometimes be tough. The best place to get your steaks is obviously a good butcher, who has both the finest cuts and the know-how to make the best of them. A quick chat might even introduce you to some delicious underrated cuts of steak

Unfortunately, not every corner of the world has a butcher readily available, and chances are, the grocery stores without one don't stock the really good stuff. While it's certainly possible to find decent and cheap meat from the Aldi near you, people with more specific tastes are unlikely to have their appetites sated.  

Fortunately, we live in a day and age when the world's goods and services are as close as your smartphone. You can buy almost everything online, and steak is no exception. But are the risks associated with online purchases worth getting those ribeyes you've been aching to devour? Here's what you should know before buying steak online. 

There are several good reasons for ordering steak online

There are many positive reasons for shopping for steaks online, per CookingLight. There's the obvious fact that online shopping is far more convenient than running around trying to find the specific cut of quality meat you're looking for. Because there are plenty of online retailers, your selection is going to be significantly bigger than your neighborhood's stores are likely to offer. What's more, it's also much easier to find out exactly where the meat comes from, because many online retailers are happy to be transparent about their sources, right down to the precise farm the steak comes from.

If you're worried about the taste of the end product, there's an easy way to hedge your bets toward absolute deliciousness. It's no secret that the companies freeze their steaks in order to deliver them in optimal condition, but some freezing methods are superior to others. You'll want to look for retailers that use flash freezing, which leaves the steak's taste better and is also much safer. According to Eric Sieden, director of nutrition and food services at Glen Cove, "Flash freezing is a best industry practice that contains the product with minimal time at temperatures that can affect quality or safety." You can easily check if the steak has been flash-frozen by looking for tiny ice crystals on it. 

Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks

Few things in this world are perfect, and unfortunately, this also applies to buying steak online. For one, it can be incredibly time-consuming to find an online retailer that ticks all the right boxes. Apart from browsing their selection, reading reviews, and researching the companies' approach to sourcing, transparency and food safety are things you should absolutely look into before making your choice. Of course, once you've put in the effort and found your favorite, your next online steak-buying experience is going to be significantly easier. It's not going to get any cheaper, though. One downside of buying online steaks is their comparatively hefty price tag. In 2019, the average price of a steak was $20 or so — and that's before shipping.  

There's also the small matter of food safety, because even a small break in the cold chain — failing to keep the meat safely refrigerated — might render the steak unsafe to eat. "Yes, the package will arrive frozen, but this doesn't mean it can sit on your doorstep," says food safety expert Candess Zona-Mendola. "There are always food safety concerns when it comes to mailing food." 

Still, if you do your due diligence when choosing the company, and stay mindful of the price and cold chain, you'll have a world of steak available to you — and if that's not a good thing, we don't know what is.