How Red Is Your Meat?

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imageWhen you shop for meat, what influences your purchase decision?

If you’re like most people, you’ll pass up the brownish-tinged steak for the one beside it that’s noticeably red. So, in an effort to cut it’s losses, the meat industry is reported to be adopting the practise of fixing the meat’s pigment by treating it with carbon monoxide. And when this tactic is coupled with a type of packaging that further maintains the low-oxygen atmosphere, it’s said that the meat keeps looking red “not just longer, but almost indefinitely.”

A 2001 EU report warns that “the presence of CO may mask visual evidence of spoilage.”

I ran a search on the Health Canada website but it didn’t turn up anything useful, so I dashed off an email inquiry. Here’s the answer I got:

Date: Thur, 15 Nov 2007 12:22:12 -0500
From: Health Canada
To: Gregory Fowler
Subject: Re: WWW Form Submission

November 15 2007,

Dear Mr. Fowler,

Thank you for using Health Canada online.

The use of carbon monoxide in food products is not currently permitted under the Food and Drug Redulations.

Thank you for writing.

Food Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada

So that’s good news. Provided that “Redulations” means regulations.

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Links:
2006/02/20: Washington Post – FDA is Urged to Ban …
2006/02/21 – USA Today: Groups protest use…
2006/09/26 – Food Quality News: Carbon monoxide in meat products…
2007/10/30 – Alberta Govt: Lawmakers Introduce Bill…
2006/09/26 – Food Quality News: Carbon monoxide in meat products…
2007/11/14 – Treehugger: More on Giving Meat the Tailpipe Treatment

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