Have you ever wondered how meat sold in the grocery store always looks so cool?
Have you thought about how long it takes to get from a live animal to the slaughterhouse to the packer distributor to the grocery store for the case of meat and finally to your dinner plate?
There’s magic in the flesh.
Well, not really magic-more like carbon monoxide. Two thirds of the meat (beef and chicken) packaged for consumer use in the US are prepared and packaged at a meat packing plant then sends it Case-Ready to grocery stores. In the process, many packers inject carbon monoxide in the package surrounding the meat to make it look, but not necessarily remaining cool.
Carbon monoxide is impregnated into the meat and binds to myoglobin (a type of intercellular protein) in the flesh and oxygen is therefore retained, keeping the meat fresh appearance. Nobody will buy dark meat. Carbon monoxide creates a low oxygen environment to inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause spoilage.
All this sounds good, however, is not it?
Who would not want that meat look fresh and free of harmful bacteria will remain?
The question is the means by which it is made. Carbon monoxide (CO, one carbon atom more than one oxygen atom) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless that is lethal to humans in large quantities (think the warning in a gas oven or charcoal bag).
When used in packaging meat, CO adheres to the hemoglobin (the oxygen carrier in the blood) in meat and stays there, ready to eat it. The meat industry says that it is not as inhaled, CO poses no threat to human health when consumed in meat as a result of atmosphere packaging.
Consider this: Clostridium perfringens bacteria are one of the most common causes of diseases transmitted by the food. They grow where there is little oxygen. Insert meat (and fish imported) that has been treated with CO in the process of atmospheric packaging. It is estimated that about half of the meat sold in grocery stores contain this bacteria; where is it located:. in meat subjected to a treatment of CO
What makes it even worse is that consumers are unaware of this practice. No labeling on meat, which would give them a choice.