The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects all ground beef and food coloring is not allowed to be added
The American Meat Institute (AMI) today unveiled a new educational video about the color of ground beef found in today's meat case. The video, featuring Betsy Booren, Ph.D., director of scientific affairs of the American Meat Institute Foundation, is the sixth installment of AMI's new "Ask the Meat Scientist" series.
The diverse choices in today's meat case generate many different questions from consumers. Sometimes ground beef may appear red on the outside, but brown on the inside due to packaging methods. Booren explains in the video the simple explanation for this: oxygen.
"Beef comes from the muscle of an animal. In its natural state, when it is not exposed to any oxygen, it appears purple," she notes. "But when it is exposed to at least a 20% or higher oxygen level of air, the protein responsible for meat color, called `myoglobin,' is forced to bind with the oxygen present and causes the meat color to turn red. Also, when the meat is exposed to no or less than 1% of oxygen gas, the meat color will change to a brownish shade."
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