Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jan 17, 2013 01:37 PM

What is beef dyed with in Canada?

I was just reading about how carbon monoxide is used to keep beef looking pink/red in the US but is illegal here. So what do they use to dye grocery store beef here? I've definitely bought packs of ground beef that were bright pink/red outside and all brown inside before.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. As far as I know (my dad was a butcher at Loblaws for 35 years).. they just put the meat on the tray first and then add a layer of "fresh" stuff over top. Not that it really matters if you buy in bulk and bring it home and freeze it will all look the same. In fact my dad used to buy the steaks that were too brown to sell (that they were going to grind up) for the same price as ground beef. He explained it this way first day steak is cut it is put in the counter, that night it is pulled out and flipped over so the side that was not exposed to light and still pink is facing up) if it still did not sell they would either put it on sale or make ground beef out of it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pourboi

      Interesting. I swear though sometimes just the outside is bright red, even with ground beef, like the exterior of the outside portion of the string is red while the inside is brown. I posted in general topics too and apparently carbon monoxide is allowed in processing now in Canada after all. Still not sure though if that's what was used on the ground beef I was eating.

      1. re: quazy

        The small amount of residual blood on the surface of ground beef or steaks/roasts reacts with oxygen and the red color is nothing more than oxidation. This does not occur on the inside, which goes gray but is still safe.
        After two or three days the oxidized surface of beef will become darker and reach the last day of sale.
        The MAP process referred to in your link needs special packaging, and is not used in regular markets or meat trays.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Hello Quazy,
        I am a butcher. I have been working, teaching, and writing in the meat industry for almost 40 years. I CAN tell you THIS question comes up at LEAST once a week. The truth is ... the colour change is nothing more than food science, NOT trickery. The enzymes in the meat react to the oxygen we breathe and turn bright red. It's simply called oxidation ... we (in the industry) call it the 'Bloom". The reason the ground meat is darker on the inside is because the inside has not been exposed to oxygen. Check out for the answer to your question re: dyed beef. I wrote a post on Feb 6 2013 called "How 'bout a little love" All we (as a industry) can do is continue the dialogue, and try to educate people ... one at a time.