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May 17, 2012 06:28 PM

Interior color of ground beef

I bought some ground round this week to make into hamburgers. The exterior was red, but when I broke it up to make the patties some of the interior was brown. It came from a reputable market prepackaged and wasn't marked down or anything. This is the second time I've experienced this at this particular market. It tasted fine and didn't smell funny. I know that some times this will happen on the surface with the interior staying red, but brown inside with a red exterior is weird. Any thoughts on how this could happen?

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  1. Meat "blooms" (turns red) due to oxygen coming in contact with the myoglobin. ~ break the ground meat open for a few minutes and the interior will "bloom" as well. ~

    ""It tasted fine and didn't smell funny."" ~~~ Exactly, This is normal for ground beef. HTH

    1. Funny that you never noticed this before. It's normal as Uncle Bob stated.

      1. You'll also see this with other pieces of meat, like steaks. If two steaks are lying on top of each other (well, that's physically impossible, but you know what I mean), you might notice that they are brown where they are coming in contact with each other.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tommy

          I observed that effect tonight-- there were two steaks overlapping each other in the package and the surfaces where they touched each other were brown. But if it’s just a matter of lack of oxygen why wasn’t the interior of the steaks also brown?

          I’ll try to answer my own question (but I'm just making this up)-- steaks can “breathe” and pass oxygen to the middle of the steak so the meat stays red in the center. Since the interior bits of ground beef are separate pieces from what’s on the outside there is no pathway for the oxygen to travel to the interior.

          There’s good reason to be suspicious of brown beef. Brown may not always indicate spoilage, but when meat goes bad it first turns brown on the surface (where most of the bacteria are). One problem with ground beef (besides the fact that it comes from many different animals) is that potentially dangerous bacteria reside initially on the surface of meat where in plain cuts they are destroyed by cooking. When beef is ground there’s more surface area for the bacteria to contaminate and it ends up inside the mass of beef where it is less likely to be destroyed by cooking. That said, I’m usually comfortable eating brown beef as long as it passes the sniff test. And if you want the tenderest beef, you should age a large chunk and just scrape off any outside parts that might go bad.