By: Eric Mittenthal, Vice President, Public Affairs, North American Meat Institute
I had the opportunity to attend the NGA Show in Las Vegas earlier this month to share North American Meat Institute resources and materials with retailers from around the country. It was a perfect opportunity for us to hear from National Grocers Association members about their meat department needs and what questions they’re getting from consumers. The great news for us was the unanimous agreement amongst those I spoke to that meat and poultry products are major drivers for shoppers. Of course, that comes as no surprise to us.
However, there was one surprising question many said they commonly receive from consumers about meat and ground beef in particular: why do stores stuff old ground beef inside fresh ground beef? This is an unfortunate consumer perception because ground beef is often red on the outside but brown on the inside. Those of us in the meat industry know the reason for this – and it’s simple oxygen. Meat that has been exposed to oxygen turns a bright red. Typically ground beef on the inside hasn’t had this oxygen exposure so it appears brown. The color difference has nothing to do with freshness or quality, yet the negative perception persists.
At the North American Meat Institute, we’ve developed a couple of resources to assist with this question. First is a video as part of our “Ask The Meat Scientist” video series which explains why ground beef in the same package might appear to be two different colors. We also have a video as part of our Meat MythCrushers series which more broadly explains meat color and why it changes. We hope these are useful anytime the meat color question comes up.
And if you’re getting different questions about meat and poultry from consumers? We’re happy to help with those as well. There’s a good chance our Meat MythCrushers site has addressed any question you receive, but if not, feel free to reach out and we will make sure to get you the resources you need.