Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Turns out some meat producers treat their product with carbon monoxide to keep that pretty pink color for longer, and competitors and some consumer groups think the FDA should ban the practice, or at least treat carbon monoxide as a colorant subject to full review. The FDA has previously agreed that the practice is "generally recognized as safe" (or "GRAS"), though the practice is not allowed in Europe at all.
The concern identified by opponents is that it disguises when meat is going bad (while competitors also acknowledge a potential loss for their alternative approaches). The people using the carbon monoxide, unsurprisingly, disagree:
"When a product reaches the point of spoilage, there will be other signs that will be evidenced -- for example odor, slime formation and a bulging package -- so the product will not smell or look right," said Ann Boeckman, a lawyer with the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson. It represents Precept Foods LLC, a joint venture between Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. and Hormel Foods Corp. that helped pioneer the technology.
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Bucky Gwartney, executive director for research and knowledge management for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, chafes at the idea that the industry is trying to fool consumers.
"It would be ludicrous for a company to adopt a process that would undermine what we all want, which is to assure that food is safe," Gwartney said. "Maybe it needs to be more transparent and public," he acknowledged. "If that's what we need to do, we'll probably do that as an industry."
Interesting express warranty (and other questions) abound...