Why Red Meat Turns Brown
"Color is the single most important factor of meat products that influences consumer buying decision and affects their perception of the freshness of the product. Everyone dealing with meat products should have a working knowledge of the color".
Everything always looks so tasty in the store. Nothing's worse than unloading your groceries to find your veggies or meat are about to spoil. I stopped going to Trader Joe's because of that.
While I figured it wasn't dangerous, I've never liked how my ground beef has always turned an ugly brown after exit the grocery store parking lot.
Luckily, after a little investigation I found the meat color change is a perfectly natural reaction between the proteins in animal muscle (meat) and oxygen. Boring, but at least safe!
It's crazy but the meat can actually change colors (back and forth) completely dependent upon oxygen levels!
Oxygen Exposure | Why Beef Turns Brown
The cause for the color change is pretty simple;
When myoglobin (a protein in muscles) is exposed to oxygen (after the slaughter), it becomes oxymyoglobin – technical, I know...
This process is what leads to the bright red color that we all recognize and love. The term "red meat" is due to the oxygen exposure and this process.
It makes sense that after my ground beef is wrapped and bagged it's lost much of it's oxygen exposure. The browning of the meat is due to this oxygen reduction.
This can happen when multiple steaks are stacked on top of each other or even with ground beef as the meat gets compressed to itself.
To Eat Or Not To Eat
Sense of smell is a huge factor with along with color. If questionable, smell the meat. If it’s sour smelling at all, don't eat it.