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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Carbon Monoxide and Meat Color

By February 16, 2011

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Did you know meat sometimes is packaged in an atmosphere high in carbon monoxide to give it a 'fresh meat' color? The carbon monoxide binds to the myoglobin protein in meat to make it pink. The chemical reaction that fixes the color isn't unhealthy, but there are concerns consumers might by bad meat based on its fresh appearance. Meat packaged in carbon monoxide remains pink even after it stops being fit for consumption while untreated meat gets darker in color as it stays on the shelf. Of course, there are other indicators of freshness. A slimy appearance or bulging packaging indicates bacteria activity or decay. If you could smell the meat, you'd know whether or not it's good, too.

How do you know if your meat is packed in CO? There's no labeling to let you know whether or not carbon monoxide packaging has been used, but there are telltale signs. Take a look at the meat that has been marked down because it's close to its sales date. Has the meat started to deepen in color and become more brownish? Is it a vibrant pink? If the meat never changes color, you can be sure the color was fixed.

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March 19, 2012 at 12:51 am
(1) Margo says:

I put my steak on my tailpipe and fire up my Toyota. The gorgeous exhaust fumes make it taste better too. Tastes like gasoline. I used to put those mcdonald raps up the tailpipe too they would taste awsome after that!!!!!!!!!

May 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm
(2) kegakawe says:


Smart_ss! You’re so funny. : )

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