27 October 2009

is raw ground beef bad when brown?

brown beef

Someone once told me that he threw out raw ground beef because it was bad. Said person doesn't cook, so I wondered why exactly he threw it out. "Did it expire?" I don't remember what he said, but I think he didn't look. "Why did you throw it out?" It was grey.

brown and red beef

To get to the bottom of this question, in case anyone wondered the same thing, I did a quick Google search, as well as conducting a personal test, to find out the answer.

The Google search said that when raw beef becomes exposed to air, the air reacts with the meat pigments, particularly oxymyoglobin and causes the outer surface of meat to turn red while the inner meat, not exposed to oxygen, becomes grey-brown. Hm.

the grey is red!

It turns out that the innards of this meat was red. What I actually was searching for was a page telling me that red dye was inserted into meat, but I found some stuff about meat being packaged with CO or some such thing to keep the meat looking red, which does absolutely nothing for the freshness, and the meat is packaged in a way to either keep air out and the air it was packed with in, or to let a small amount of air in.

Back to the meat used in this post, both were purchased at the same time, and both were placed in the same section of the refrigerator, though one slightly froze while the other was completely "fresh". One of the pages I read said that if the meat was thoroughly grey, chances are it was bad, though you should also go by smell as well because I've used ground beef in the past when a) it was past the expiration date, and b) it was grey through-and-through, neither of which I'm suggesting anyone do and blaming me for your bout of e coli, I'm just letting you know I'm still alive and running.

taco meat

To sum this post up, be one with your food. Part of cooking includes getting "in there" and closely observing what's up with your ingredients. If you go by sight, you'll end up throwing out grey raw ground beef that may be perfectly fine to cook with, and no one wants to be wasteful. Right?

The ground beef was turned into taco meat, though that's beside the point of the post. =P


  1. um, you never said what you were making :look:

  2. I always go by smell for meat, and I always use it soon after buying (or defrosting). I don't like to get into risky zone with meat.

  3. That's some great information! I usually smell it before I throw away brown meat. But I've always wondered the same thing about brown meat. It just doesn't look pretty so I think we just get thrown off by that.

  4. Interesting information! I had always wondered about it too. You have a nice blog!

  5. Stiles ~ Fixed =P

    Jessica ~ Smell is definitely a number one indicator. I wish I could say I used meat soon after buying, but that would be a lie.

    Sook ~ Yup, definitely!

    Vickie ~ Thanks so much!

  6. Very helpful. My meat is all grey right now and i'm searching online to see how safe it is. If you are still alive it can't be that bad. Thx!!

  7. You will die slowly from eating red meat regardless if it turned brown, or how long ago you bought it. It will fester in your intestines forever. Meat Is Murder!

    1. Yes, it is. Tasty, Tasty murder...

  8. The oxygen part is partly responsible for the colour....

    *geek alert*
    The brown colour comes from oxymyoglobin (oxygenated myoglobin) losing that oxygen AND being degraded into metmyoglobin by bacteria.

    So in my books, a bit brown on the outside like on the pic is okaish...inmediate consumption!... if it doesn't smell badly.
    Greenish definitely is a no no.

  9. 1. Always go by smell. if it's even slightly off, don't go there because the smell is intensified once you cook it.
    (I had a bad bacon experience that I never want to repeat! Gaahhh!!)

    2. I swear, some vegans/vegetarians... We appreciate and respect your views, Anonymous, but would appreciate treatment in kind.

    Work on your delivery if proselytizing is your goal.

  10. Well in my case, my raw beef is brown but still has pink spots. I think that's still safe. Is it? I'll go by smell as it's said!

  11. Vegans are vegans & they can't tolerate us meat lovers so don't waste your time!


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