Fake Red Meat: Meatpackers Warn Consumers To "Use The Sell By Date"

As we’ve already mentioned, packing meat in carbon dioxide keeps it from turning brown, but doesn’t keep it from spoiling—making it more likely that consumers will buy, and eat, nasty spoiled meat.

A logical person might conclude that its not really a good idea to package the meat in such a way that your customer might become ill from eating it. Not so, it seems.

At a hearing Tuesday meatpackers said that consumers should rely on the “use by” date and not the color of meat to determine its freshness. They also suggested sniffing the meat to see if it is bad, and claimed that “consumers routinely rely on sell-by dates” and not color to determine freshness. (Although if they didn’t use color to determine freshness, one would assume that there would be no reason to spend extra money artificially dying meat to appear “fresher,” but we’re not supposed to think about that.)

One company, Cargill, said that it had decided to place warning labels on its carbon dioxide “dyed” meat:

Cargill Meat executive Scott Eilert said the processor, part of agribusiness giant Cargill Inc, based in Minneapolis, decided to add to its packages the words, “Color is not an indicator of freshness. Please refer to use or freeze by dates.”

“We believe this effectively addresses the concerns of the (House Energy and Commerce) Committee in protecting public health while not undermining the adoption of the safety and convenience offered through case-ready packaging,” said Eilert in written testimony.

All obvious safety issues aside, we picture a lot of happy customers buying almost spoiled, but perfectly red-looking meat, and being really pleased with it when they get home and it stinks like roadkill.

Good plan.

Meatpackers tell shoppers “use by” date is key [Reuters]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.