A question about meat . . .

Joined Nov 17, 2000
Since I have been buying my meat from a butcher shop, as opposed to a grocery store meat department, I have noticed that there is a lot of blood in the wrapping. I assume that this has to do with recent butchering and fresh meat. I remember that the grocery store meat I used to buy had little blood in the wrapping.
Here's my question:
If I buy ground meat on Saturday to use early in the week (like Monday), it turns a really dark red color. It is packaged in a plastic bag, and there is a lot of blood in the bag. Is this normal? And is this meat safe to use in spite of the dark color? It smells fine. I don't remember this happening with grocery store meat--it was always sort of light red and didn't change color.
Other cuts of meat turn dark too, regardless of packaging!


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Most grocery store meat has absorbent mats in the packaging to suck up any liquid that weeps. Grocery stores don't know how long the package will sit before being sold, so this helps them out.

The butchers usually skip that as the meat is packaged when sold. As it sits, it will weep some, usually because it has been wet aged and not dry aged. And because meat weeps.

Fresh beef is dark red. The plastic used in the grocery stores is oxygen permeable. This creates a bloom in the blood for a bright red effect that consumers mistakenly believe is fresh. Hamburger is pink for the same reason and darkens as it ages as it oxidizes at the surface more quickly. Other meat oxidizes too so that is why the color changes. Note oxidized flesh is more brown than red.

Bright red oxidation tastes normal to most people as that is what they are used to. Brown oxidation can start to deliver an off taste, but some preparations extend beef aging for an intentional "gamier" flavor. Quality whole beef will keep refrigerated for at least a week, though a careful taster will note color and slight flavor changes, usually only direct comparison to fresher beef, however.

Ground meat should be used quickly. You'll get color change from Sat to Mon, but should be OK. I wouldn't go any longer with beef and even less with ground poultry. Ground meats are at their best when freshest.

Joined Dec 4, 2001
As a point of interest, most of the meat we eat is muscle tissue and as such has virtually no blood in it. The protein in blood that makes it turn red when exposed to oxygen is called hemaglobin. The liquid in the meat is mostly water with a protein called myoglobin which also turns red when exposed to oxygen. Raw or rare meat looks "bloody" but it's not really.

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