Did you know that spoiled tuna (or beef) can still be bright red?
Meat sellers have learned that gassing meat with carbon monoxide can preserve a nice red color even after meat has spoiled. Compare spoiled meat with and without carbon monoxide after 8 days at room temperature, (see photo at left); the yucky brown meat didn't have CO and the pretty red spoiled meat had CO treatment.
Even your sushi is not safe. Some sushi restaurants sell carbon monoxide treated tuna, making it harder to judge freshness.
"People love the color of this stuff," (carbon monoxide treated tuna) said Jerry Bocchino, an owner of Pescatore in New York. "With fresh tuna, you're always racing the clock to keep the color and keep it from spoiling. And once it turns brown, no one wants to buy it."
Some people are upset and would like meat to turn brown when it spoils. This would make it easier for consumers to know when meat is still safe, since people rely on color to tell what's fresh.
The US Congress has gotten into this debate, and held a hearing in late 2007. At this hearing, it was revealed that meat company scientists questioned the validity of their own safety tests, but the Agriculture Dept. was remarkable sanguine. Meat company representatives suggested perhaps a warning label that says "color is not an accurate indicator of freshness."
Caveat emptor and all that. But check out this emptor in a video, saying he's a meat lover and he got fooled by carbon monoxide treated meat left at room temperature overnight. Yuck.
image: Washington Post