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Sainsbury's is about to start selling 'touch-free meat' - here's why that's a GOOD thing


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‘Touch-free’ meat is a really touchy issue.

It’s got people riled up from all sides of the debate, with disgruntled people lashing out at ‘snowflake millennials’ and environmentalists worrying about the potential rise of more plastic waste. There were even concerns that the millennials in question were unable to cook their own meat properly or were becoming more ‘divorced’ from their food sources.

Feeling out of the loop? Sainsbury's recently announced they would be selling 'touch-free meat' from May 3rd, allowing consumers to prepare meals while avoiding direct contact with their products.

Katheryn Hall (product manager for meat, poultry and fish) told The Sunday Times: “Customers, particularly younger ones, are quite scared of touching raw meat. These bags allow people, especially those who are time-poor, to just ‘rip and tip’ the meat straight into the frying pan without touching it.”

And then the furore began.

I was quite disappointed when wading through the marsh of disgruntled Twitter users that a catchy hashtag hadn’t been found to sum up the severity of the situation in a single word (#Meatgate, anyone?), but I digress.

I’m actually in favour of this going ahead.

(Please bear with me. I can see the angry glowing eyes of the Internet already turning my way, so allow me to explain.)

I don’t see the issue here as millennials being ‘too afraid to touch their meat,’ as someone helpfully suggested, but more as a reaction to both time pressures and fear of contaminating their food, both of which are perfectly valid. Nobody wants to get food poisoning, after all, and for people who may not necessarily have the time to devote an hour to preparing their meals or may be less familiar in doing so, this new range is actually invaluable as a way for people to develop confidence in the kitchen and make their own tasty, healthy meals.

Unless you’re physically prepared and financially able to give up eating meat and resort to a vegetarian or vegan diet, an easy answer would be to just purchase a pair of reusable kitchen gloves. That way, cooks can avoid touching and potentially contaminating their meat while still being able to normally prepare it, and equally avoiding creating extra waste by using disposable plastic ones. The fact you can wash your gloves after use also prevents any further meals being affected. There's also a handy guide for cooking meat generally.

Now, as a ‘snowflake’ myself I can sympathise with the plight of my fellow millennials: juggling our commitments between the pressures of succeeding in studying or employment (if we’re lucky enough to find any) and financial concerns related to rising house prices among other things, we are more concerned with quick, easy and affordable solutions to problems that members of previous generations perhaps did not face in the same way we do today.

Personally, I think a rift has developed between the idea’s concept and execution (pun not intended) – I’m all for saving time on household chores, but not if it means there’s risks of additional (and mostly unnecessary) waste or pollution. I can support these products and the encouraging message they’re trying to send out while also raising concerns over their potential repercussions.

Still, it’s a good start. The fact that Sainsbury’s has implemented a range to specifically target millennial issues shows they’re willing to willing to listen to the opinions, needs and concerns of their consumer base. This gives them an ideal chance to face the backlash and try a novel solution: perhaps they could try and use purely recycled plastic to package this new meat in the first place? Otherwise, it’s just a well-intentioned gesture that doesn’t deliver.

Image: Amy Stephenson on Flickr 

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