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Light and Meat
Color of Fresh Pork in Meat Department Merchandisers

Pork color was found to be a major consideration for consumers in their decision to buy pork cuts.The color of fresh pork in meat department merchandisers was found to be a major consideration for consumers in their decision to buy pork cuts. Fresh pork is optimally pink. In one study, darker colored pork was preferred over pale pork, and consumers tended to avoid brown or grey pork which was interpreted as spoiled or old, even though this discoloration occurs long before the meat is spoiled in most cases.

Paler cuts of pork are thought to be tough and dry when cooked. Neither extreme of pale or dark is ideal and both are considered problems in the pork industry caused by genetics and the handling of the pig before and after slaughter.

Both PSE pork (pale, soft, and exudative or oozing) and DFD pork (dark, firm, and dry) can be affected by the amount of water in and on the pork cut. This water escapes from meat with a low pH (< 5.4) and can scatter light, making the pork appear to be lighter than it really is. In addition, oxygen permeable polyvinyl wrapping causes DFD pork to appear darker than if it is in vacuum packaging, and less appealing than medium pink pork cuts. Consumers tended to avoid pale and wet pork, preferring cuts that were medium or dark pink and then within that category preferring the dryer cuts.

PROMOLUX True Color Definition Lamps and LEDs

PROMOLUX Safe Spectrum balanced full spectrum fluorescent lamps and LEDs emit lower levels of heat and ultraviolet radiation than regular supermarket fluorescent lamps, thus reducing the rate of pork 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.

Because PROMOLUX lamps and LEDs are designed for true color definition, they have a more balanced visible spectrum than other fluorescent lamps. The yellow and green wavelengths that are predominant in regular fluorescent lighting are the most damaging wavelengths in the visible spectrum. PROMOLUX lamps 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.

It is impossible to create a natural light that does not have any yellow or green wavelengths, so light sources will always be damaging to some extent. However, in a study conducted by the University of Zaragoza, meat that was displayed under PROMOLUX low UV balanced spectrum lamps stayed nearly as fresh as meat kept in the dark, while meat that was displayed under regular fluorescent lighting quickly turned brown and began to decompose.


Studies have found that pork shelf life is limited more by the development of a brown or grey color, which develops long before the meat has spoiled, than by any other factor. For pork, this discoloration is accelerated by increased surface temperatures which can result from using meat display lighting that emits large quantities of UV and harmful visible spectrum radiation. <more...>

When exposed to light and high temperatures resulting from light radiation, pork is affected in two ways. First, microorganisms grow exponentially and cause the pork to turn brown or grey and to spoil. Second, pork fats are vulnerable to lipid oxidation which leads to rancidity. <more...>

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