To read this content please select one of the options below:

The colour of meat

Monica A. Winstanley (PhD of the Meat Research Institute near Bristol)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 1 June 1979



By law, no substance may be added to fresh meat to enhance its colour; so one might be forgiven for thinking that colour is a good natural guide to meat quality. Indeed, cookery books often urge you to choose bright red meat and avoid that which is dull and brown. But this preference is based on a fallacy. The appearance of bright red meat is undoubtedly psychologically attractive, but it is not an indicator of quality. The fact is that meat colour is not a reliable guide to either freshness or flavour. As we shall see, a number of factors — ranging from the age of the animal through to the eventual packaging and display — can affect the colour of meat; although in most cases they do not affect the eating quality of the meat after cooking. It is the chemistry of the pigment myoglobin which determines meat colour, and it is affected by a variety of chemical and physical factors.


Winstanley, M.A. (1979), "The colour of meat", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 79 No. 6, pp. 5-8.




Copyright © 1979, MCB UP Limited

Related articles