‘Shoppers often choose meat out of the grocery case based on how fresh it looks, but meatpackers have started packaging fresh meat in a “modified atmosphere” that masks telltale discoloration and decomposition of days-old meat. The process involves pumping oxygen out of and carbon monoxide into an airtight container. The deception has occasioned numerous protests from consumer groups.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation specifically bans using carbon monoxide for packaging fresh meat. But meatpacking companies won exemptions from the rule when they petitioned the FDA in 2001, 2004, and 2005 to declare the gas itself “generally recognized as safe,” and the practice continues to spread. Democratic members of Congress pressed FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach last year to establish whether masking “the degradation of meat” is a “danger to public health,” but the agency stonewalled. [..]’