General Question

henry_david's avatar

Is the meat purchased at the market red because of dye or blood?

Asked by henry_david (67 points ) May 7th, 2008 from iPhone

Just wondering. It’s for a bet, so give some favorable answers.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

25 Answers

iwamoto's avatar

i guess it’s just the color of dead meat, althouh you’d think there would still be some blood in the slab of dead animal, maybe it’s red because it used to be a living creature now slaughterd because you won’t do it… j/k…or am i?

i think it’s just the color, not the blood

peedub's avatar

It’s blood.

Mtl_zack's avatar

in kashrut, the jewish dietary laws, blood is prohibited from being eaten. i follow kashrut and buy my meat at a ksosher butcher and its red there too. its definatly not blood. its just the colour of the flesh.

peedub's avatar

It can be treated to make it look brighter, and in effect artificial, but this is not from dye.

simone54's avatar

It IS the blood. The blood has been flowing through the meat of the animals whole life. That makes the meat red. To make it Kosher the take all the blood out of it. It would be a stupid thing to say that it isn’t the blood that makes it red. With all that being said, they can treat it to make it look like a more brilliant red.

peedub's avatar

I amend what I last said. Dye might be added sometimes, but it is still primarily blood.

iCeskate's avatar

why would dye be put in meat?

peedub's avatar

To make it appear fresher than it is. Meat, or blood, turns brown.

psyla's avatar

Dead flesh is gray, that’s why morticians have a high overhead on makeup. Ancient Egyptians preferred bandages overlayed with anatomical simulations of gold, makeup was reserved for the living. They also didn’t believe in cremation as it would be hard for the Ka to find the ashes. The Pharoah’s Ka could be blind and still be able to stumble upon a Pyramid. Anyway, to get back on topic, yes, it’s not natural for flesh to remain red for long after it died. The red color is due to oxygen still attached to the hemoglobin. In dead flesh, blood tends to pool (since it’s not moving) and the red eventually fades as the hemoglobin deoxygenates. So the answer is, it depends how long it’s been since the death. There are FDA approved methods of adding unnatural colors to food…

EcoEric's avatar

cut some meat off yourself and see what color it is DUH! (not at the question but at some of the answers)

psyla's avatar

guilty!

shilolo's avatar

In some cases, the meat is treated with carbon monoxide (CO) to maintain the red color longer. When the CO binds the iron component in hemoglobin (of blood) or myoglobin (of muscle, AKA “meat”), it shifts the color of the meat and blood to a brilliant red color (even redder than oxygen), which consumers find more attractive. Also, CO binding to hemoglobin and myoglobin is much more avid than oxygen, which is why, as psyla mentioned, the meat tends to become grey over time when the only gas available to bind the hemoglobin/myoglobin is oxygen. Deoxyhemoglobin (and myoglobin) loses its red color, BUT, carbonmonoxyhemoglobin (myoglobin) stays red for a much longer period of time, which also gives the meat a longer shelf life (since most consumers do not buy brown/grey meat).

psyla's avatar

Excellent answer shilolo. So would eating the carbon monoxide saturated blood (as blood & raw meat is used in some recipes) be a health hazard as opposed to breathing it, say, from an exhaust pipe? If the CO was released during cooking would we inhale it at that time?

shilolo's avatar

@Psyla, I’m not a food scientist, but I do study the biology of CO. That said, I don’t know the precise doses that are used to treat the meat, nor do I know how prevalent the practice is. As you cook meat, it turns brown from the loss of oxygen (and maybe CO). The amount of CO bound is so low that diffusion in the atmosphere of your kitchen or barbecue (i.e. outside) would be enough to make the ambient concentrations trivial (i.e. nothing like sucking your car’s tailpipe).

FYI, the human body makes its own CO as a byproduct of hemoglobin metabolism, and so we are all constantly exhaling low amounts (not counting atmospheric CO and cigarette smoke), roughly 1–2 parts per million per breath.

Seesul's avatar

Just an aside, I’ve purchased ground beef at the market where it is bright red on the outside and when I opened it, it is brownish grey underneath. It was in layers, so I assumed they took older meat and wrapped it to look fresher. That was the last time I bought ground beef at that particular market.

nocountry2's avatar

Gross! I know fish like Tuna and Salmon can be artificially colored to make them look wild caught rather than farm-raised, so I can see the curiosity of whether or not it applies to meat…honestly I wouldn’t put it past ‘em these days – I really try to consume organic animal products when I can afford it…

Seesul's avatar

…and not to mention the rubber chicken issue. I’ve had so many bad experiences with it, I wait until I can buy the Whole Foods stuff…same goes for Turkey. I’ve given up on beef, except for the occasional can’t resist In N Out animal style burger.

peedub's avatar

Rubber chicken? You mean you got duped into buying one and thought it was real?

peedub's avatar

So did you win or lose the bet?

cage's avatar

Blood.
Blood is given its colour by the red blood cells within it. you can tell how oxygenated the blood is by the amount of oxygen is in it. Therefore you can tell how fresh the meat is.

If it’s a bright red colour, then it’s oxygenated with lots of oxygen in it (most likely fresher).
If it’s a purply colour then it’s deoxygenated. (not as fresh but still safe to eat :) )

b's avatar

Not always. Roast beef deli meat is treated with nitrates to keep it red looking. Otherwise it turns grey and people get grossed out by it. Raw meet, as far as I know, is not dyed.

shockvalue's avatar

A lot of meat is given a dye to retain the colour that is considered “normal.” Once an animal is dead, blood is no longer coursing through its veins and arteries. Thus, it begins to pool at the lowest most point in the muscle and other tissue. As meat sits and ages, it turns a dull grey and is considered unappetizing by your average person. Thus artificial colours are added to maintain the appearance of freshness. A similar process is used for salmon and other fishes. Since most are farmed these days, the salmon are unable to produce the nice peachy orange we are accustomed to. No one wants to buy salmon that looks like a Grouper, so the fish are fed dye tablets in order to tint the pigment of their fleshy insides. Fun no?

simone54's avatar

Why is this still being discussed?? Come on, let’s get more people to say the same thing that’s been said already.

stopped following

dindinbaby's avatar

Raw meat is red due to hemaglobin. If any coloring is added it must be declared on the label. I have never heard of raw meat that is not pre-flavored (like pork tenderloin that is sold in marinade) that has color added. I work in the meat industry an would know of these practices. As for the mention of organic, the term organic refers to what the animal was fed or exposed to when alive. To be certified organic the animal must be fed a ration that has never been treated with any pesticides or herbacides. The animal also cannot recieve any antibiotics, antihistamines, growth hormones, or pest control of any kind.

galileogirl's avatar

What really affects the color is the lights over the meat cases at the supermarket. It never looks so pink and fresh when you get it home.

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