How You are Being Fooled at the Meat Counter
March 07, 2006
Carbon monoxide is being used as a "pigment fixative" to treat meat in order to help it retain its redness.
The meat industry has defended this relatively new practice by claiming that money is wasted when sellers throw away good meat that has become slightly brown and less attractive.
Still Looks Fresh Even When Spoiled
However, some have alleged that carbon-monoxide-treated meat will also still look bright red and fresh after it goes bad, and that carbon monoxide similarly suppresses bad odors, slime, and other indicators that the meat is spoiled.
Consumer groups are concerned that meat buyers will ignore expiration dates because the meat still looks fresh.
Unapproved and Prohibited
A petition has been filed with the FDA to prevent the practice. Along with the reasons already stated, it argues that carbon monoxide is an unapproved and prohibited color additive.
Go-Ahead from the FDAThe FDA has allowed three meat-producing or packaging firms to use carbon monoxide, deeming the process "generally recognized as safe." That designation means the FDA conducted no research of its own, instead of relying on the companies to confirm product safety.