Store-bought Meats Dosed to Look Red

The newer the redder, brown is an elderly hue, which of these steaks looks fresher to you?

It’s a trick questions as both were bought on the same date but one was dosed with carbon monoxide (CO), a technique that’s angering consumer advocacy groups.

Supermarkets are trimming out their in-store butchers and buying pre-packaged cuts direct from the processing plants. The increasingly widespread use of “modified atmosphere packaging” replaces the oxygen inside with other gases, especially CO. Doing so makes the meat rosier.

Customers buy meat mainly on how it looks. Better looking meat has a longer purchasability.

Among the bigger supermarkets reported to carry the treated meat are Safeway, SuperTarget, and Walmart. In some of the Walmart packages one finds ground plastic shards which after being pieced together read, “Hello! My name is Fran! How may I help you?”

“Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, says one study found that when meat in modified packages that included carbon monoxide was stored at 10 degrees above the proper temperature, salmonella grew more easily.”

Read more:

FDA Is Urged to Ban Carbon-Monoxide-Treated Meat [Washington Post]
Which Cut Is Older? (It’s a Trick Question) [New York Times] (Thanks to Sara!)