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Toxic gas hides meat spoilage, firm says

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HAY MAKER

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http://www.detnews.com/2005/business/0511/17/A10-384898.htm



Thursday, November 17, 2005



Toxic gas hides meat spoilage, firm says

Kalamazoo company protests use of carbon monoxide as a color enhancer.

By Lance Gay / Scripps Howard News Service



WASHINGTON -- Those cuts of red meat in the supermarket locker may not be as fresh as they look.

Under little-noted rulings over the past three years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed meat processors to use small amounts of carbon monoxide to maintain the red color in fresh meat sold in pre-assembled or "case-ready" packages.

Such packages are airtight containers assembled with the product at meat-packing plants and are not made to be reopened until they are sold to consumers. Some packages are marketed for up to 35 days, or 28 days in the case of ground beef.

Kalsec, a food-and-spice company in Kalamazoo, Mich., is protesting the FDA action, saying the carbon-monoxide treatment is an illegal additive to fresh meat that disguises the freshness of the meat and hides spoilage.

"Color is the indicator consumers use most often to determine if meat is fresh," said Don Berdahl, Kalsec's vice president. He explained that carbon monoxide gas reacts with the pigment of the blood in meat and gives it a deep red color that can fool shoppers.

The company also charged that the practice is not safe and can hide the growth of dangerous pathogens like botulinum, salmonella and E. coli.

Kalsec wants the FDA to either rescind its approval of the use of carbon monoxide or require meat packers to label treated product to alert consumers.

The FDA has not objected to companies using carbon monoxide as a processing aid in several cases over the past three years, ruling that the gas is in the category of "substances generally recognized as safe" and so not requiring complete regulatory review.

The agency notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the use of wood smoke containing carbon monoxide as an ingredient in meat and poultry products and that only small amounts of the gas remain in the meat after consumers open the container.

The European Union banned the use of carbon monoxide in meat in 2003 after a scientific panel concluded the process deceives consumers and exposes them to unsafe meat.

The meat industry said the FDA's approval was proper.

"The scientific evidence supports the safety of this packing technology," said James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation. "Unfortunately, it appears that this petition to ban a safe technology may be motivated by competitive interests. It is unfortunate that this competitive attack may create food safety concerns when there are none here."
 

Econ101

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That must be what they did to that piece of meat my wife bought at Wal-Mart.

I don't really care what the meat industry thinks about this practice and what the regulators let them get away with---My family is still not going to buy ANY meat from Wal-Mart. This does mean more trips to other competitors and it means more other than meat revenue loss for Wal-Mart.

They left the USDA inspected label on it. What a joke. The credibilty of the USDA is sinking.
 

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FDA asked to rescind use of carbon monoxide for meats

By Ahmed ElAmin


11/17/2005 - A petition from a food and spice company could end up with the US food regulator rescinding its decision last year allowing processors to use carbon monoxide to keep packaged meat red and fresh-looking.

Carbon monoxide is often used in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) as a packaging technique for maintaining food quality.

The MAP method works by replacing the air with a mixture of inert gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The package is then heat sealed. The low-oxygen mix extends the shelf-life of the meat, vegetables and other perishable foods by up to 15 days from the normal five days, a big plus at a time when the market is working to ensure food safety and extend their markets.

However, carbon monoxide also makes meat appear fresher than it actually is by reacting with the meat pigment myoglobin to create carboxymyoglobin, a bright red pigment that masks any of the natural aging and spoilage of meats, according to a petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Michigan-based Kalsec.

The FDA approved the practice as safe for use with packaged last year in response to requests from two food companies. The EU prohibits food companies from using carbon monoxide.

Under current US regulation, processors do not have to indicate on the label that their meat products have been treated with carbon monoxide.

In a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Michigan-based Kalsec says the method can hide spoilage and lead to food safety problems.

"The use of carbon monoxide deceives consumers and creates an unnecessary risk of food poisoning by enabling meat and ground beef to remain fresh-looking beyond the point at which typical color changes would indicate ageing or bacterial spoilage," Kalsec stated in its petition.

The petition urges the FDA to withdraw its July 2004 decision and related decisions allowing the use of carbon monoxide in meat packaging. The company argues that the FDA accepted the food companies' applications using a formula known as "Generally Recognized As Safe" (GRAS).

Under the GRAS application process the FDA does not conduct an independent safety investigation of its own, but instead relies on the
notifiers' claims, research and documentation in considering the safety of a product or process in food.

"Carbon monoxide simulates the appearance of freshness, so consumers may actually believe meat is fresh and safe when it may be neither," stated Don Berdahl, Kalsec's vice president and technical director. "We hope the FDA acts quickly to end this deceptive, potentially dangerous practice.".

The company argues that consumers mainly chose their meat based on appearance, and specifically its color. The company says that the practice of treating meat with carbon monoxide could hide the growth of pathogens such as Clostridium Botulinum, Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7.

"If meat is bought spoiled, refrigerated improperly or used after these pathogens begin to grow, even proper cooking might not be sufficient to render the food safe to eat, because certain bacteria produce toxins that survive the cooking process," the company stated.

The company also argues that the FDA should have done its own independent testing of the companies' scientific claims. Kalsec claims the FDA also did not have legal authority to permit the use of carbon monoxide in fresh meat packaging because it is an unapproved and prohibited color additive.

The agency bypassed the required procedure for carbon monoxide to obtain a color additive designation, a necessary precondition for making it legal to use carbon monoxide in fresh meat packaging, the company stated.

The US department of agriculture's regulations prohibit the introduction of ingredients in fresh meat that function to conceal damage or inferiority, or give the appearance the product is of better or greater value.

The use of carbon monoxide has been banned in other countries. In 2003, the EU prohibited the use of carbon monoxide for meat and tuna products. In its decision, the European Commission's food safety regulator stated that "the stable cherry-colour can last beyond the microbial shelf life of the meat and thus mask spoilage."

Several countries including Japan, Canada and Singapore also ban the use of carbon monoxide in tuna.

"At the very least, the public has a right to know about the use of carbon monoxide in their food," Berdahl stated. " If the FDA won't prohibit it, the government should require a label that informs consumers about the presence of carbon monoxide and the health dangers it presents."

"The scientific evidence supports the safety of this packing technology," said James H. Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation. "It is unfortunate that this competitive attack may create food safety concerns when there are none here."


The original application to the FDA to get approval for the use of carbon monoxide was submitted by Pactiv Corporation and Precept Foods.
 

PORKER

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The US department of agriculture's regulations prohibit the introduction of ingredients in fresh meat that function to conceal damage or inferiority, or give the appearance the product is of better or greater value.

Wonder if it works on Algerian donkey meat!!!!!!
 

Econ101

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I saw on the television where a mom made here daughter carry a sign around on the street corner that said she was not doing her homework, not getting good grades, and needed to "work for food". Of course it was all about the humilation factor turning her actions around.

Another judge did the same thing for a person convicted of stealing something.

I wonder if this would work with these companies who are doing this kind pushing the envelope with our food safety and quality? I would like to see the CEOs who are allowing this slide to have to stand on the street corner with a sign telling of the fraud they are trying to commit. Maybe we would have less fraud.

Just telling them to please stop isn't working.
 

mrj

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Sandhusker said:
SH, do you see any deception here?

I don't know what SH thinks, but I would like to see more information from the proponents of the process described.

I heard about that quite some time ago, and what I heard, probably from those developing the system, was the benefits to safety as well as appearance of the meat. We need to remember that normal exposure to air makes perfectly fresh and safe beef appear brown and un-appealing in a short time.

The fact that the complaint comes from a company that sees the process as competition for its products makes me wonder about their motives.

Questions I have regarding the complaints and the process of packaging the beef in this particular gas mixture:

Does the gas mixture ADD color to the meat as claimed, or does it PRESERVE the color of the meat. There is a difference, and it is significant to the complaint, IMO.

Does the gas mixture add ANYTHING to the meat, or does it PREVENT the changes occuring due to oxygen exposure? And is it more of an excluder (of the oxygen) than an inclusion of a foreign substance to the beef?

Finally, if there is deception in the packaging process proven, I would throw the book at those doing it.

And if there is science backing the packaging process as beneficial and safe, I would throw the book at those using false claims to give themselves the competitive edge over others who went to the expense of developing and using a proven safe and effective means of preserving the appearance of the meat.

MRJ
 

Econ101

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MRJ,

The little steak my wife bought at Wal-Mart was in one of those deep white plastic containers that had been sealed with some kind of plastic wrap. The meat was a good 1/2 to 1 inch from the top plastic wrap. When you sliced the meat you could see there was a 1/8 inch of really bright red meat (almost florescent compared to regular meat) and then darker colored meat below. You could smell the meat was not at its prime when you took it out of the package and smelled it. You could not tell anything except that it looked bright red at the store.

A disclaimer on that meat would not have been good enough. It was a total deception that you couldn't tell at the store. The color of meat is an indication of how fresh it was sliced at the store and some of the characteristics of how the meat was handled. This CO2 masks those characteristics.

Whovever came up with this one was looking for their own pocketbook at the expense of the consumer. I don't care if people from PETA came up with complaints on the process, I would not question anyone's motives on getting rid of this practice. This is another one of those slides down the quality curve.
 
A

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Sandman: "SH, do you see any deception here?"

No but I certainly see another "ALLEGATION" of deception that you have sunk your packer blaming teeth into without knowing the facts.

SHOULD I BE SURPRISED?????

I'd bet you would lose this one in court too. Properly aged beef in cryovac has a slight odor to it. If Carbon monoxide packaging aids in the preservation of beef, that serves to help the industry.

Gosh, what would these companies do without wizards like you telling them not to make consumers sick with their beef. Who stands to lose more in that situation, you or them?

ARROGANCE......always saving someone from themselves!

BUT, BUT, ELEMENTARY AND SANDMAN CARE MORE ABOUT FOOD SAFETY THAN ANYONE ELSE, DIDN'T YOU KNOW THAT?????


~SH~
 

Econ101

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~SH~ said:
Sandman: "SH, do you see any deception here?"

No but I certainly see another "ALLEGATION" of deception that you have sunk your packer blaming teeth into without knowing the facts.

SHOULD I BE SURPRISED?????

I'd bet you would lose this one in court too. Properly aged beef in cryovac has a slight odor to it. If Carbon monoxide packaging aids in the preservation of beef, that serves to help the industry.

Gosh, what would these companies do without wizards like you telling them not to make consumers sick with their beef. Who stands to lose more in that situation, you or them?

ARROGANCE......always saving someone from themselves!

BUT, BUT, ELEMENTARY AND SANDMAN CARE MORE ABOUT FOOD SAFETY THAN ANYONE ELSE, DIDN'T YOU KNOW THAT?????


~SH~

Why do you think the USDA inspection services were started in the first place, SH? Was it to help packers out?
 
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Elementary: "Why do you think the USDA inspection services were started in the first place, SH? Was it to help packers out?"

You really don't know?



~SH~
 

Sandhusker

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~SH~ said:
Sandman: "SH, do you see any deception here?"

No but I certainly see another "ALLEGATION" of deception that you have sunk your packer blaming teeth into without knowing the facts.

SHOULD I BE SURPRISED?????

I'd bet you would lose this one in court too. Properly aged beef in cryovac has a slight odor to it. If Carbon monoxide packaging aids in the preservation of beef, that serves to help the industry.

Gosh, what would these companies do without wizards like you telling them not to make consumers sick with their beef. Who stands to lose more in that situation, you or them?

ARROGANCE......always saving someone from themselves!

BUT, BUT, ELEMENTARY AND SANDMAN CARE MORE ABOUT FOOD SAFETY THAN ANYONE ELSE, DIDN'T YOU KNOW THAT?????


~SH~

You are a flippin dandy, SH. You think that selling BSE tested beef to people who actually ask for it is deception, but pumping chemicals into packages unbeknowest to consumers is not. You can't possibly be that stupid. Obviously, you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but you can't be that stupid.

Color is definitely a tool to determine freshness. You're OK with that color being not derived because of freshness, but because of chemicals?
How are the consumers who think they are buying fresh beef not being deceived? Tell us, Mr. "My only bias is the truth". :roll:
 

Econ101

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~SH~ said:
Elementary: "Why do you think the USDA inspection services were started in the first place, SH? Was it to help packers out?"

You really don't know?



~SH~

Since you can only trap yourself, I was giving you the opportunity.
 

mrj

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Econ101 said:
MRJ,

The little steak my wife bought at Wal-Mart was in one of those deep white plastic containers that had been sealed with some kind of plastic wrap. The meat was a good 1/2 to 1 inch from the top plastic wrap. When you sliced the meat you could see there was a 1/8 inch of really bright red meat (almost florescent compared to regular meat) and then darker colored meat below. You could smell the meat was not at its prime when you took it out of the package and smelled it. You could not tell anything except that it looked bright red at the store.

A disclaimer on that meat would not have been good enough. It was a total deception that you couldn't tell at the store. The color of meat is an indication of how fresh it was sliced at the store and some of the characteristics of how the meat was handled. This CO2 masks those characteristics.

Whovever came up with this one was looking for their own pocketbook at the expense of the consumer. I don't care if people from PETA came up with complaints on the process, I would not question anyone's motives on getting rid of this practice. This is another one of those slides down the quality curve.

Do you know absolutely that the meat you purchased was treated with CO2? Did you take it back to the store to complain of bad product? If you did, what did the store manager do or say about the problem?

MRJ
 

mrj

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Sandhusker said:
~SH~ said:
Sandman: "SH, do you see any deception here?"

No but I certainly see another "ALLEGATION" of deception that you have sunk your packer blaming teeth into without knowing the facts.

SHOULD I BE SURPRISED?????

I'd bet you would lose this one in court too. Properly aged beef in cryovac has a slight odor to it. If Carbon monoxide packaging aids in the preservation of beef, that serves to help the industry.

Gosh, what would these companies do without wizards like you telling them not to make consumers sick with their beef. Who stands to lose more in that situation, you or them?

ARROGANCE......always saving someone from themselves!

BUT, BUT, ELEMENTARY AND SANDMAN CARE MORE ABOUT FOOD SAFETY THAN ANYONE ELSE, DIDN'T YOU KNOW THAT?????


~SH~

You are a flippin dandy, SH. You think that selling BSE tested beef to people who actually ask for it is deception, but pumping chemicals into packages unbeknowest to consumers is not. You can't possibly be that stupid. Obviously, you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but you can't be that stupid.

Color is definitely a tool to determine freshness. You're OK with that color being not derived because of freshness, but because of chemicals?
How are the consumers who think they are buying fresh beef not being deceived? Tell us, Mr. "My only bias is the truth". :roll:

Sandhusker, wasn't the process developed using gases, not chemicals, to PRESERVE the freshness for a longer time, not to make beef already past its prime APPEAR fresh? The story says the process has been used as a technique for maintaining food quality, not to fool the customer. How long would a business be successful if customers were conned into buying spoiled beef?

Were there any complaints of problems with beef so treated, or was it from the company who felt it gave another company unfair advantage over its own un-treated beef?

I want ALL the information, not just one side before I would be willing to trash that process, OR to imply that anyone using it is only trying to cheat the customers by conning them into buying spoiled beef.

MRJ
 

Sandhusker

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I didn't say anything about spoiled beef. The issue is consumers wanting (and believing they are paying for) fresh beef. If they are using color as an indicator of freshness and that color is not due to the beef being fresh but rather because of chemical reaction, there's a hoodwinking going on.
 

PORKER

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the practice of treating meat with carbon monoxide could hide the growth of pathogens such as Clostridium Botulinum, Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7.

"If meat is bought spoiled, refrigerated improperly or used after these pathogens begin to grow, even proper cooking might not be sufficient to render the food safe to eat, because certain bacteria produce toxins that survive the cooking process,"
 

Murgen

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1. What factors affect the color of meat and poultry?
Myoglobin, a protein, is responsible for the majority of the red color. Myoglobin doesn't circulate in the blood but is fixed in the tissue cells and is purplish in color. When it is mixed with oxygen, it becomes oxymyoglobin and produces a bright red color. The remaining color comes from the hemoglobin which occurs mainly in the circulating blood, but a small amount can be found in the tissues after slaughter.

Color is also influenced by the age of the animal, the species, sex, diet, and even the exercise it gets. The meat from older animals will be darker in color because the myoglobin level increases with age. Exercised muscles are always darker in color, which means the same animal can have variations of color in its muscles.

In addition, the color of meat and poultry can change as it is being stored at retail and in the home (see explanation in question 5). When safely stored in the refrigerator or freezer, color changes are normal for fresh meat and poultry.

2. Does a change in color indicate spoilage?
Change in color alone does not mean the product is spoiled. Color changes are normal for fresh product. With spoilage there can be a change in color—often a fading or darkening. In addition to the color change, the meat or poultry will have an off odor, be sticky or tacky to the touch, or it may be slimy. If meat has developed these characteristics, it should not be used.

THE COLOR OF MEAT

5. When displayed at the grocery store, why is some meat bright red and other meat very dark in color?
Optimum surface color of fresh meat (i.e., cherry-red for beef; dark cherry-red for lamb; grayish-pink for pork; and pale pink for veal) is highly unstable and short-lived. When meat is fresh and protected from contact with air (such as in vacuum packages), it has the purple-red color that comes from myoglobin, one of the two key pigments responsible for the color of meat. When exposed to air, myoglobin forms the pigment, oxymyoglobin, which gives meat a pleasingly cherry-red color. The use of a plastic wrap that allows oxygen to pass through it helps ensure that the cut meats will retain this bright red color. However, exposure to store lighting as well as the continued contact of myoglobin and oxymyoglobin with oxygen leads to the formation of metmyoglobin, a pigment that turns meat brownish-red. This color change alone does not mean the product is spoiled (see explanation in question 2).
 

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Color of fresh beef during retail display is an important factor used by consumers to
judge freshness and make their purchase decision. A bright, cherry-red muscle tissue
color is desired. Recession of the cherry-red color during product display, and the
appearance of brown hues, is a natural process in beef, and occur prior to microbial
spoilage

http://www.beef.org/uDocs/ACF13DD.pdf

Sometimes I wonder if we're our own worst enemies when it comes to misconceptions and not correcting them.

Reminds me of the vegetable buyer who wants no pesticides, but then does not want to buy the blemished apple, because it is not attractive!
 

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