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Kroger quits stocking gas-packaged beef

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Tommy

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One of my contributions Scott....

Kroger quits stocking gas-packaged beef

Red color - FDA petitioner says shoppers can't gauge the freshness of meat packaged with carbon monoxide



FROM STAFF

AND WIRE REPORTS

The Oregonian

February 22, 2006



The nation's largest grocery chain said Tuesday that it has decided to stop carrying ground beef products packaged with minute amounts of carbon monoxide designed to keep meat an appealing pink color.



Kroger, the parent company of Fred Meyer and QFC stores in the Pacific Northwest and Fry's, Smith's and Ralph's across the country, said its decision late last week arose from uncertainty over the pros and cons of using the gas. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, carbon monoxide use faces a challenge by one company and consumer organizations.



Kalsec Foods in Kalamazoo, Mich., a maker of natural food extracts, has petitioned the FDA to ban the practice, saying it deceives shoppers who depend on color to help them avoid spoiled meat.



The gas, harmless to health at the levels being used, gives meat a bright pink color that lasts weeks. The meat industry hopes the process can save much of the $1 billion it says it loses annually from having to discount or discard meat that is reasonably fresh and perfectly safe, but no longer pretty.



Critics, however, say the FDA violated its own rules by allowing the practice without a formal evaluation of its effect on consumer safety.



"This meat stays red and stays red and stays red," said Don Berdahl, vice president and laboratory director at Kalsec Foods. If nothing else, Berdahl and others say, the treated meat should be labeled so consumers will know not to trust their eyes.



"We feel it's a huge consumer right-to-know issue," said Donna Rosenbaum of Safe Tables Our Priority, a Burlington, Vt., organization that, along with the Consumer Federation of America, wrote to the FDA in support of a ban.



The offensive has the meat industry seeing red. Officials deny their foes' claim that carbon monoxide is a "colorant" -- a category that would require a full FDA review -- saying it helps meat retain its naturally red color. They also point out that removing oxygen during packaging limits bacterial growth and helps protect human health.



Melinda Merrill, a spokeswoman for Fred Meyer, said Kroger's decision to order its supplier to stop using carbon monoxide on beef patties and chili meat resulted from "ambiguous" information over the treatment's advantages and disadvantages.



"We just didn't have enough information to feel like it had to be in our meat," she said.



Because the meat has a shelf life of about 10 days, she said it would be about another week before meat packaged with carbon monoxide disappears from stores.



An Albertsons spokeswoman said six of its ground pork and sausage products are packaged using carbon monoxide, but none is used in its beef.



A Safeway spokeswoman did not return phone calls seeking comment.



Meat industry representatives say color is a poor indicator of freshness as meat turns brown from exposure to oxygen long before it goes bad.



"When a product reaches the point of spoilage, there will be other signs that will be evidenced -- for example odor, slime formation and a bulging package -- so the product will not smell or look right," said Ann Boeckman, a lawyer with the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson. It represents Precept Foods LLC, a joint venture between Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. and Hormel Foods Corp. that helped pioneer the technology.



For years, the meat industry has used atmospheric packaging to limit spoilage. The industry standard has been to vacuum-package bulk cuts of meat at slaughterhouses or inject gases in packaging before shipping to retail outlets.



Meat packaged in a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide stays fresh for longer periods, but turns an unappealing purple color. The red color returns when the meat is exposed to oxygen after retail outlets open the bulk meats and cut them into individual sizes.



The new technology allows meatpackers to prepare individual cuts of meat for retail sale by adding a mixture of 0.4 percent carbon monoxide to the roughly 70/30 blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The carbon monoxide reacts with natural myoglobin in meat to produce a red color, "simulating the appearance of freshness and masking meat spoilage," Kalsec wrote in its FDA petition.



In Oregon, some meatpackers and grinders have embraced the use of carbon monoxide.



Interstate Meat Distributors Inc., a large meat-grinding operation in Clackamas, began experimenting with the use of carbon monoxide about a year ago.



Darrin Hoy, Interstate's general manager, said media reports on the technology had ignored vital information: Packaging meat in an oxygen-free environment drastically reduces the proliferation of bacteria.



"This is something that helps minimize food-safety issues with ground beef," he said. "It's not a colorant, and it's not an additive."



But Carlton Farms, Oregon's largest meatpacker, says it uses no added gases in the packing process. John Duyn, the company's president, said Carlton vacuum packs meat to remove oxygen.



"We do not use any carbon monoxide nor would I ever use it," he said. "I don't believe in the use of mixed gases . . . because everything we produce is natural."



Alex Pulaski of The Oregonian staff and Rick Weiss of The Washington Post contributed to this report
 

mrj

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The differences and arguments for or against using CO packaging that I have heard seem to depend mostly upon whether there is knowledge of the process OR there is a bias against beef, packers, or retailers.

I did serve on a committee of NCBA where the research was discussed some years ago and believed it would be a boon for the entire cattle and beef industry to having a product similar to Fruit Fresh to keep peeled apples or bananas from changing color due to exposure to the air. The principles of, and reasons for, CO packaged meat are similar to the Fruit Fresh idea.

This morning on Agri-Talk, it seemed obvious to me that, in addition to ignorance about the process and the reasons for using it, the consumer group rep. was acting from at least a slight bias against the red meat industry, but that may be my bias against him because others in that org have been so in the past. One email had a distinct bias against packers and retailers, IMO. My own bias is on the side of science based value added packaging for beef, and against those who put it down to attempts and desire to deceive consumers on the part of packers and retailers. Do we really think they are stupid enough to WANT to deceive consumers into buying spoiled meat????

There is some discussion of developing some type of mechanical addition to the packaging which will trip to indicate if the package has gotten too warm for proper storage before purchase. That sounds mildly interestinv.

MRJ
 

Mike

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To make a food item "Look" fresh, when in reality it is not, is a sham, farce, and complete deceit.
 

Sandhusker

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I was in town yesterday and made a point to go to the meat counter and look for the word "fresh". It was unbelievable how many times I saw that word - one was even in letters two feet high! I'd encourage everybody else to check out their local store and do the same. To sell product that has been chemically altered to give the appearance of freshness when it is not in those surroundings is not acceptable.
 

Tommy

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Mike...To make a food item "Look" fresh, when in reality it is not, is a sham, farce, and complete deceit.

That is the way I see it also Mike. I caught the last part of Agri-Talk today when the NCBA rep. was promoting using the carbon monoxide gas in the beef packages. He said it not only made the beef look better but it also enhanced the flavor. This was around the time mj called in saying all those that had called in against it were packer blamers.
 

Sandhusker

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Tommy said:
Mike...To make a food item "Look" fresh, when in reality it is not, is a sham, farce, and complete deceit.

That is the way I see it also Mike. I caught the last part of Agri-Talk today when the NCBA rep. was promoting using the carbon monoxide gas in the beef packages. He said it not only made the beef look better but it also enhanced the flavor. This was around the time mj called in saying all those that had called in against it were packer blamers.

If they want to us it, fine. Put a label on it so the customer will know where the color came from - and don't sell it near a "fresh" sign.
 

Econ101

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Sandhusker said:
Tommy said:
Mike...To make a food item "Look" fresh, when in reality it is not, is a sham, farce, and complete deceit.

That is the way I see it also Mike. I caught the last part of Agri-Talk today when the NCBA rep. was promoting using the carbon monoxide gas in the beef packages. He said it not only made the beef look better but it also enhanced the flavor. This was around the time mj called in saying all those that had called in against it were packer blamers.

If they want to us it, fine. Put a label on it so the customer will know where the color came from - and don't sell it near a "fresh" sign.

That sign needs to be pretty big and not hidden on a little bitty lable. It was way too little on the package of meat I bought from Walmart from Tyson.
 

mrj

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Mike said:
To make a food item "Look" fresh, when in reality it is not, is a sham, farce, and complete deceit.

How can that be, when in fact, the products have a sell by date that is well within the safe to eat time for the meat?

What do you not understand in the statement that the packaging it to keep the natural color when it is the only thing that would deteriorate from the unnatural condition of being exposed to air long before it would spoil?

The loser here is the consumer. If perfectly good and safe meat discolors from air exposure and consumers refuse to buy it, it has to be disposed of and costs of meat will be higher to reflect that loss. The retailer is not going to absorb such costs.

The only mistake made, IMO, is in educating consumers.

Why is CFA so eager to seize upon this effort by the beef industry to improve beef for consumers and twist it to fit their agenda of putting beef down? And why are ranchers so quick to join them in that effort? Have you even checked out any of the research on that process, Mike? You sound more like some vegetarian activist than a rancher. Surely you owe it to our industry to learn the facts rather than spouting deceptive rhetoric.

MRJ

MRJ
 
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MRJ said:
And why are ranchers so quick to join them in that effort? Have you even checked out any of the research on that process, Mike? You sound more like some vegetarian activist than a rancher. Surely you owe it to our industry to learn the facts rather than spouting deceptive rhetoric.

MRJ

MRJ

Most old ranchers would be spinning in their graves to see the farce and frauds you and NCBA back: package aging of beef, using chemicals to mask the true color and age of beef, and FRAUDULENTLY removing origin labels so imported beef can be passed off as US product.....Glad to know you are in a very small minority of South Dakota ranchers :wink: ....
 

Sandhusker

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I can't believe you can support this, MRJ. Consumers HAVE been educated. They've been educated that color is an indicator of freshness. If that color is caused by a chemical reaction, they're being fooled, plain and simple.
 

Econ101

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Sandhusker said:
I can't believe you can support this, MRJ. Consumers HAVE been educated. They've been educated that color is an indicator of freshness. If that color is caused by a chemical reaction, they're being fooled, plain and simple.

The consumers probably educated Kroger decision makers and hence the policy. What would happen if we only had Walmart and no competition?
 

Mike

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Mike? You sound more like some vegetarian activist than a rancher. Surely you owe it to our industry to learn the facts rather than spouting deceptive rhetoric.

MRJ, Please explain what part of "To make a food item "Look" fresh, when in reality it is not, is a sham, farce, and complete deceit." is deceptive rhetoric?

I would say the same for chicken, chitlins, collards, cauliflower, canteloupes, corn, or catfish. :wink:
 

Tommy

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Mike...I would say the same for chicken, chitlins, collards, cauliflower, canteloupes, corn, or catfish.

Never eat chitlins or collards yet Mike, but love all the rest you mention, especially catfish.

If the NCBA was against the practice of carbon monoxide gasing mj would be against it as well.
 

mrj

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First, Tommy, I did NOT say that all who called Agri-Talk and spoke against the CO packaging were packer blamers.

I did say that it appeared most who were against it did not know what it was, and that SOME people said or wrote things that showed some bias against either beef, or packers and retailers. There is a difference between that and what you said.

The product used in the CO packaging is NOT a colorant, NOT a chemical, and is Not an additive.

The process of atmospheric packaging exchanges the oxygen (the natural room air) which dis-colors the meat and allows bacteria to grow, and replaces the air with the CO gas which ALLOWS the red color to remain on the beef. The meat has about a ten day shelf life. I have not verified this, but believe the packages are dated with a "sell by," or "use by" date. I also believe there is an "atmospheric packaging" label.

I believe that the atmospheric packaging gives the consumer not only a naturally colored beef product, but a safer one because of the fact that the removal of the oxygen limits possible bacterial growth.

It is not true that the process allows beef to "look fresh when it is not", Sandhusker. It simply prevents it from APPEARING to be not fresh when it still IS fresh.

BTW, is there a regulatory definition of the word "fresh" when used in selling food? If there is, I've certainly seen it abused in supermarket produce counters. I would hate to have the same happen to beef counters.

You guys have ignored the science that shows this packaging to be beneficial to all concerned in your zeal to "prove" packers and/or retailers are trying to "deceive" consumers and pocket the money.

I aske you again, does it benefit the retailer if consumers get spoiled beef and stop buying from that store?

It seems you WANT the stores to keep on losing the $1.BILLION annually due to having to discount and/or discard beef that is reasonably fresh and PERFECTLY safe, but an ugly color. Why do you feel that way? Don't you realize the only new money coming into the cattle/beef industry is from the consumer......that loss is $1.BILLION dollars that is NOT available to pay for more beef that you produce.......unless you are among those ranchers who deny they produce beef? What is the deal?

OT, when I think of old ranchers and dry aging beef, I'm reminded of the one I knew who butchered and hung the carcass up in his chickenhouse to keep the wild critters away from it while it aged. Or the story of the wonderful steak eaten, then being told you had to wait till there was mold on it and cut that away to get it really tender. Maybe you shouldn't make that comparison. I'm pretty sure most of us have heard such tales from the not-so-good old days that happened really not all that long ago....maybe back into the '40's to 60's?

MRJ
 

Sandhusker

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MRJ, I don't consider meat that has been sitting in the cooler for 10 days to be fresh. Do you?

Here's what it boils down to; Consumers look for color as an indicator of freshness. They have been educated to do that. If that color is not because of freshness and the consumer is not told where that color comes from, they are being duped.

What do producers stand to gain from packers/retailers duping beef consumers? What is the problem with honesty?

You say the retailers lose a billion a year from discarding beef? That seems pretty high. Where did you come up with that figure from?
 

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It seems you WANT the stores to keep on losing the $1.BILLION annually

There is no need to lose a lone single $1 bill on meat spoilage. Price it right and it will sell. I'd sure rather get "Something" back for it than let it spoil.

This sounds like poor management to me.
 

Tommy

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MJ I stand corrected, you did say that it was a bias against retailers and packers, not packer blamers.

Do you agree with Bucky Gorton (sp), from the NCBA, that it makes it taste better?
 

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What do you all think about feeding vitamin E in the finishing stage? Vitamin E is also supposed to help beef keep its bloom longer.
 
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Mike: "To make a food item "Look" fresh, when in reality it is not, is a sham, farce, and complete deceit."

TENDERNESS TRUMPS FRESHNESS AS LONG AS THE BEEF IS SAFE TO EAT!

On one hand you packer blamers bitch that the packers and retailers no longer age beef. When they use science based technology to enhance the color of meat with CO2 through CRYOVAC aging, you scream foul. Typical of your hypocritical arguments. What a bunch of fools. Unbelievable!

YOU PACKER BLAMERS TELL ME HOW YOU CAN MAINTAIN BEEF COLOR THROUGH THE AGING PROCESS WITHOUT ENHANCEMENT????

Let's hear it...............

I suppose feeding vitamin E for 90 days prior to slaughter to maintain the bright red color of beef THROUGH THE CRYOVAC AGING PROCESS is also a sham, farce, and complete deceit???

Here you hypocrites can justify duping Japanese consumers by THE PERCEPTION OF BSE SAFE BEEF with BSE tests that will not even reveal BSE prions in cattle under 24 months of age and you have a problem with maintaining the color of meat THROUGH CRYOVAC AGING??????

Where's the consistancy in your arguments????

You packer blamers are so bent on blaming the packing and retail industry for anything that you can't even reason.

What I suggest is that you blamers market unaged beef in the NON source ID'd commodity beef industry while the progressives sell branded aged beef in cryovac with technology to maintain the red color of meat.

In the old days the ranchers used to carve the mold off an aged carcass before cooking it and you packer blamers are bitching about color enhancement THROUGH A CRYOVAC AGING PROCESS.

HAHAHAHA! I can't believe it, I absolutely can't believe it.

If you open a package of cyrovac beef and you don't smell a slight bit of decomposition and see a noticeable change in color if the color has not been enhanced, YOU DIDN'T LET IT AGE LONG ENOUGH.

Know why Applebee's beef is so tender??? BECAUSE WHEN THEY OPEN THE DAMN PACKAGE, IT HAS A DISTINCT AGED ODOR TO IT.

You packer blamers are such fools!


Oh BTW Tommy, how much of a contribution is it to simply reprint an article that supports a packer blaming bias??? All that shows is that you can't think for yourself.

IS ANYONE GETTING SICK FROM COLOR ENHANCED BEEF?????
DOES AGED BEEF TASTE BETTER THAN NON AGED BEEF????

You go ahead and sell fresh beef Mike and Sandbag, I'll age mine in cryovac and enhance the color through that aging process and we'll see who has the most repeat customers.



~SH~
 

Sandhusker

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Tell me, SH, without going on a tirade, when a consumer buys a package of CO treated beef believing that the color is a result of freshness, are they getting what they think they are paying for?
 

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