We just assume that if meat is good it has that pretty red color, but it turns out the beef you eat and the tuna you pick may keep its pre-cooked red or pink color thanks to a dose of carbon monoxide. The secret is out and now the meat industry is facing a petition to ban the use of carbon monoxide to make package meat keep its bright color longer, but the meat industry insists it is safe.
"A variety of foods are packaged with modified atmosphere gases in our grocery stores today, such as snack foods, produce and bagged salads, and this particular product is not really any different," says Dr. Randy Huffman with the American Meat Institute. But consumer advocates say it just doesn't sound right, and they're asking the FDA to ban the practice or require warning labels on meat products that have carbon monoxide added to the package.
One more concern, they say, is that extending the meat's color can hide signs that it might be starting to spoil. So, for now or until the FDA makes any changes, consumers are advised to pay attention to the expiration date on meat, rather than just judge by the color.