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Meat Packaging Facts


Shelf Life: The association of the color “red” in meat with freshness is the dominant factor underlying retail meat marketing. Loss of this color is known as “loss of bloom” in the meat industry. Consumers often mistake the loss of bloom for an increase in microbial growth. Thus, packaging has evolved over the years to optimize maintenance of meat color.

The Science of Bloom: Myoglobin is the main pigment in meat, and the form of myoglobin determines meat color. Myoblobin is purple in color and is predominant in the absence of oxygen. Oxymyoglobin is bright red and results from myoglobin becoming exposed to oxygen. This color is known as the bloom. Metmyoglobin is brown in color and exists when meat is exposed to air for extended periods of time.

Let It Breathe: Products that require a high oxygen barrier include bacon, smoked meats, non-refrigerated meat products, and anything that will oxidize or develop rancidity. Fresh meats work best with a standard oxygen barrier. Use a low barrier for certain retail meats that will be held for more than two weeks. Fresh poultry requires a very low oxygen barrier. And fresh fish, smoked fish, and fresh produce requires a breathable structure.