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Carbon Monoxide

When shopping for meat, most consumers rely on color to determine how fresh it is. So why would the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allow an additive that makes the packaged meat look red and fresh even beyond the time it is safe to eat? That’s what we’d like to know, especially considering that the additive in question is carbon monoxide.

co meat frame 2

Have you seen our carbon monoxide animation?

CO Treated Meat: Deceptive and Potentially Dangerous

By creating a new red color typically associated with meat freshness, carbon monoxide, at the very least, makes meat appear to be fresher than it is and could encourage consumers to buy spoiled meat that looks fresh and safe. Of particular concern is that the meat stays red in situations where pathogenic bacteria may be present at harmful levels.

In July 2006, Consumer Reports found unacceptable levels of spoilage organisms have been detected in certain carbon monoxide-treated meat samples prior to the use- or freeze-by date. Although the available data represent a limited number of product samples, they strongly suggest that prompt action by FDA and USDA is urgently needed.

A pdf icon September 2006 Consumer Federation of America poll revealed that 78 percent of consumers felt that the practice of treating red meat with carbon monoxide is deceptive and 68 percent would support mandatory labeling. Also 2006, pdf icon several supermarket chains indicated they thought the practice deceives consumers.

Seeing Is Not Believing — at Least Not When It Comes to Meat

Carbon Monoxide [thumb]As you stroll down the grocery store
aisles, you decide to purchase tender, juicy ground beef, just waiting for a grill and a bun.
Sitting there in its case, it looks perfect; the kind of fresh, healthy
red that promises a mouthwatering hamburger and a full belly. But a few days after savoring those juicy burgers, you find yourself
suffering from food poisoning, and wonder to yourself ‚How did this happen? The meat looked so good!” Simple. Carbon monoxide has been injected into your ground beef‚ packaging. Carbon Monoxide: Masking the Truth About Meat? details the
use of this toxic gas in meat and fish packaging to create a red color
typically associated with freshness — a practice that is considered
misleading and unsafe by several consumer groups.

Click here to read the press release and here to read the report.

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