Carbon Monoxide Keeps Meat Red

Carbon Monoxide Keeps Meat Red

A toxic chemical cocktail is the reason why old meat retains its red color.


Inside Edition’s chief investigative journalist Lisa Guerrero recently set out to discover the reason behind meat retaining its red color after prolonged periods of time. Guerrero found that meat-packers routinely use a combination of toxic chemicals carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen when packaging meat as a preservative. Inside Edition illustrated the difference between “gas-packed” and untreated meat by leaving two pieces of lamb out in room temperature for eight days.The treated meat retained its color while the un-gassed meat turned dark and began to rot. Guerrero spoke with professor of meat science at Penn State University Dr. Ed Mills about whether meat found in supermarkets is misleading to shoppers. “A consumer can’t look at the products to tell [if they are] two weeks or three weeks old,” Mills stated. Gases used for packing do not need to appear on the label of meat sold to consumers, and this process is approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Last year, the World Health Organization reclassified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen, placing it in the same category as tobacco, arsenic, and asbestos.

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