Food / Drink

What's That Red Liquid In Packaged Meat? It's Not Blood!

If you usually consider the red liquid in your packaged meat to be blood, you are mistaken.

When it's time for a date night, many people choose to skip restaurant reservations and cook up a delicious steak at home.

Everyone has their favorite way of cooking it, whether they like it rare, medium, or well done.

But before cooking, when the meat is still in its packaging at the store, it might not look very appealing.


Turns out, that red liquid that comes out of your steak - the one you thought was blood - is not blood at all.

Get ready for a meaty revelation that might change how you see your favorite cuts.

According to the American Meat Science Association, the crimson juice soaking into the packaging pad is a natural byproduct known in the industry as 'weep' or 'purge'.

Sounds appetizing, huh?


No need to worry - it's all part of the meaty process that occurs during transportation and defrosting.

You see, while it might seem like blood could come from a slab of muscle, the truth is more scientific.

That red liquid is a mixture of water and myoglobin - a protein that binds to iron and oxygen - found in the muscles of most animals, including the cows, pigs, and sheep that end up on our dinner plates.


Now, let's dive into the science behind it.


When meat is frozen, the water inside it (similar to our bodies being 76% water) turns into ice crystals.

As this frozen water undergoes this transformation, it expands and forms sharp edges, unintentionally cutting up the muscle cells.

Later, when you defrost the frozen meat, the water escapes, taking some myoglobin along with it.

Since myoglobin loves to attach to iron and oxygen, it brings that classic blood-red color we associate with real meat.


The mystery is solved!

You may have noticed that steaks tend to shrink a bit as they cook on the grill.

Well, that's because the proteins release their grip on the water, allowing more myoglobin-filled liquid to escape.

So, that's why your steak looks a bit smaller after cooking - it all makes sense!

When you visit your local farmer's shop or market, you might see a small amount of what looks like actual blood seeping from fresh cuts of meat.


But wait - after the animals are killed, most of the blood is removed. So, what could it be?

Well, meat from bigger stores has quite a journey before it reaches your plate.

To survive the trip without spoiling, it's usually frozen and then defrosted.


And that's when the 'weep' or 'purge' happens, adding that juicy red touch to the meat package.

No need to worry, though - it's perfectly safe to eat.

In fact, the little towel you find in the meat packaging is there to soak up the myoglobin juice and keep things clean.

Now, before you reconsider your love for meat, let's talk about a quirky trend called 'high meat.'

Some adventurous eaters willingly consume meat that's already started to decompose. Yep, you read that right.


While this might not be everyone's thing (or a plate of steak), it shows that tastes and preferences vary widely in the foodie world.

So, the next time you savor that perfectly cooked piece of meat, you can impress your friends with the fascinating science behind its deliciousness. Enjoy your meal!