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How You Are Being Fooled at the Meat Counter

Ever wonder why the packaged meat you see at the grocery store almost always looks red? To prevent that pinkish red from fading to brown as it sits at the market waiting to be sold, the meat industry is now infusing its products with carbon monoxide as a "pigment fixative," according to this awesome piece in today's Washington Post.

Although the industry claims the practice is harmless, many critics, including me, are quite concerned the FDA has violated its own rules by allowing producers to taint their meat with carbon monoxide without reviewing the practice formally based on human health concerns.

In fact, Tyson Foods, one of three American producers, just opened a $100 million manufacturing facility in Texas to produce these modified atmosphere packaged meats, according to experts.

The loophole that allows company to petition the FDA for special dispensation at the expense of your health: The generally recognized as safe regulatory category called GRAS that allows companies to move forward without a public review or formal governmental approval. (By the way, the European Union banned this practice some four years ago.)

The trick about meat, especially in light of this news: Where it comes from and how it's cooked is the difference-maker. That's why you should avoid most meat from grain-fed cattle -- pumped up with antibiotics and hormones -- sold at the grocery store.

That's why I restrict my choices, whenever possible, to grass-fed and organic meats. If you want to taste the difference, you may want to try one of the healthy varieties of bison I sell in my Web store.

Washington Post February 20, 2006

USA Today February 22, 2006

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