Prepackaged Meat Preserved by Carbon Monoxide

According to American Medical Association, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. On average, 1,500 people die annually and 10,000 seek medical attention, from carbon monoxide exposure. This toxic gas is odorless and a by-product from the combustion of natural gas, oil, coal, wood, kerosene, and other substances. Symptoms caused by carbon monoxide poisoning include: chronic flu-like symptoms, and feeling drowsy or dizzy.

Most people that purchase prepackaged meats at groceries or food chain stores are unaware, that carbon monoxide gas may have been added to vacuum seal the meat, for the purpose of keeping it looking fresher longer. Prepackaged meats that are not carbon monoxide vacuum- sealed will develop brown spots, on the meat, and many consumers will refuse to purchase. The observance of brown spots does not indicate, the meat is less fresh to eat. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the process prepackaging meat with carbon monoxide vacuum or gas packaging, and made it legal. The FDA deciding carbon monoxide is not a food additive, when theagreed on their decision.

The Norwegian meat industry for many years has incorporated carbon monoxide gas mixture, in the packaging of meats. In The Untied States, no legal requirement for labeling, which to inform consumers, of prepackaged carbon monoxide meats. Wal-Mart had reported, hundred-fifty of their stores, carried products that were vacuum- sealed, using a “modified atmosphere” process. Many consumers groups are concerned, regarding the health of people eating, prepackaged meats vacuum-sealed in carbon monoxide. The best method for consumers to avoid purchasing bad prepackaged meat, by looking at the “sell by date” on the package, smell for any bad odors or observe any slimmy texture.

Meat company sponsored studies, have shown that meat that is treated by carbon monoxide, is not harmful for human consumption. According to Eyewitness News (New York – WABC, February 21, 2006)) reporter Kimberly Richardson: Randy Huffman, American Meat Institute said: ” What this package technology allows us to do is protect the color. To maintain the red color consumers are used to purchasing.” The appearance of meat looking fresh longer, maybe deceptive to consumers, and the expiration date on the package maybe ignored or not considered, when deciding to make a purchase. An independent lab study tested a sample of carbon monoxide prepackaged meat.

The test revealed, meat remained bright red in color for twelve days, even if the meat was stored at fifty degree Fahrenheit. Certainly, during that time, bacteria can grow, and be unknown to the consumer, if the meat looks fresh to purchase. In February 2006, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), a senior Democrat in the House of Energy and Commerce Committee, had concerns about carbon monoxide packing of meats. He wants to introduce new legislation to discontinue the use of carbon monoxide packaging, unless the FDA reverses their approval, of this type of meat packaging.

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