My column in today's New York Times food section is about the redness of red meats and how it's maintained in both fresh and cured cuts. Check back for some other interesting findings about meat pigments and nitrites.
Note added on April 18: the column contains an error. In the sentence
Nitrite reacts in the meat tissue to form nitrous oxide, which bonds firmly to the iron in myoglobin and stabilizes it.
"nitrous oxide" should be "nitric oxide."
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is N2O, and nitric oxide is NO.
My thanks to Professor Douglas T. Hess of the Duke University Medical Center for pointing this out--just hours after publication!
Huang, Y.-R. et al. Change of hygienic quality and freshness in tuna treated with electrolyzed water and carbon monoxide gas during fresh and frozen storage. Journal of Food Science 2006, vol. 71 no. 4, M127-33.
Sorheim, O. et al. Carbon monoxide as a colorant in cooked or fermented sausages. Journal of Food Science 2006, vol. 71 no. 9, C549-55.
Kim, Y. H. et al. Mechanism for lactate-color stabilization in injection-enhanced beef. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2006, 54, 7856-62.
Sebranek, J. and J. Bacus. Natural and organic cured meat products: regulatory, manufacturing, marketing, quality and safety issues. American Meat Science Association, White Paper Series, number 1, March 2007.
Moller, J.K.S. et al. Mass spectrometric evidence for a zinc-porphyrin complex as the red pigment in dry-cured Iberian and Parma ham. Meat Science 2007, 75, 203-210
Wakamatsu, J. et al. Direct demonstration of the presence of zinc in the acetone-extractable red pigment from parma ham. Meat Science 2007, 76, 385-87.