Why is Red meat Red and White meat White? tagged:

Why is Red meat Red and White meat White?

Posted by in Musings

While I was enjoying a delicious flame roasted rosemary chicken yesterday afternoon, I was peeling apart the breast and I began to think “why is white meat white and red meat red?” And for that matter, “what about pink meat?” For any meat eaters out there, there is a clear distinction in texture, taste and the proper steps to take to prepare each between the different meats.  But I’m a biologist, and combined with my insatiable curiosity, I started to think what about the meat, at a cellular and molecular level, make them distinct from each other?  With the assistance of a friend, he referred to me to the following article.

Understanding Your Meat

In summary, muscles that are used MORE often have a higher concentration of a red protein called myoglobin that is similar to hemoglobin that stores oxygen needed for energy production.  Therefore any muscles used for standing, running, etc. will usually be darker.  Hence the breast of a chicken is white, since it isn’t used as much, while the legs are a dark meat because they require higher amounts of energy.  As for pink meat, well I’ll let the article explain that one.

There are other subtleties addressed within the article that expand upon the question, but I feel this was sufficient to accurately answer my initial question.  Either way, I’ve solidified that no matter the color of the meat….I think they are all delicious.  At least now, I will know a little more about what I’m eating.  Cheers!