|Fresh Meat Blooming in Grocery Store and Butcher Merchandisers
Myoglobin is a protein pigment that stores and carries oxygen for muscle tissue metabolism. It contains an iron atom that can bind with oxygen, water, or nitric oxide (responsible for the color of cured meats) and can oxidize (lose an electron), chemical reactions that cause the color of fresh meat to change.
In several studies it has been found that color is very important to consumers when they select meat; for beef the ideal color is bright cherry red; for lamb, dark cherry red; for pork, grayish pink; and for veal, pale pink. These colors are achieved by allowing the fresh meat to bloom.
In a freshly slaughtered animal, myoglobin is purple, which gives the meat a dark purplish hue. The meat is often preserved at this color by packaging it in airtight, dark containers while the meat is stored or transported. Within half an hour of exposure to oxygen and light, the meat blooms: myoglobin becomes oxygenated as oxygen is absorbed by the meat and binds to the iron atom, forming oxymyoglobin, a characteristically red pigment that causes the meat to turn from purple to the appropriate shade of red or pink.
The exact shade of red is determined by the amount of myoglobin in the muscle tissue, which can vary depending upon the animal’s diet, age, sex, and species, and the amount of exercise it had. Meat from older animals and meat from muscles that were strengthened through exercise tend to be darker. Thus beef, which has a higher concentration of myoglobin than pork, lamb, or chicken, is bright cherry red, while veal from a milk-fed penned calf and pork are pale pink.
While this oxygenation is reversible, and the meat pigments fluctuate between these two purple and red colors regularly, other reactions soon become more predominant. The blooming period is therefore short-lived, but can be prolonged by minimizing the exposure to ultraviolet and visible spectrum radiation, maintaining low temperatures, and using modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) containing very high concentrations of oxygen.
PROMOLUX True Color Definition Lamps and LEDs
PROMOLUX balanced spectrum fluorescent lamps and LEDs emit lower levels of heat and ultraviolet radiation than regular grocery store fluorescent lamps, thus reducing the rate of meat decomposition. Compared to other fluorescent lighting, PROMOLUX lamps emit 86% lower UV B radiation, a shorter wavelength that penetrates and causes heating, and 52% lower UV A radiation, a longer wavelength that tends to affect surfaces.
PROMOLUX meat display case lamps and LEDs are also balanced for true color definition. The yellow and green wavelengths that are predominant in regular fluorescent lighting are the most damaging wavelengths in the
PROMOLUX lamps and LEDs emit a more balanced range of wavelengths, including more of the red and blue wavelengths and more moderate levels of the yellow and green wavelengths, thus revealing the bright red color of blooming beef muscle without compromising the white of the fat and marbling.
Lighting sources have a profound effect on the perceived color of fresh meat.
FRESH MEAT DISCOLORATION IN RETAIL MEAT SHOWCASES
With continued exposure to light, the fresh meat’s appealing red or pink bloom is replaced by an unappetizing and permanent brown or grey color. This change is initiated when the light source emits high levels of ultraviolet and yellow wavelengths, which accelerates the rate of meat decomposition. <more...>