Meat Turns Brown in the Fridge: Is It Bad?

The color of meat can range from a pale pink to a brown color depending on the age and type of meat. If you are wondering “If meat turns brown in the fridge is it bad?” then this article might be able to answer your question.

Short Answer

There is no specific color that means that the meat is bad, but many people associate a dark color with spoilage. So, does the color of beef indicate freshness?

According to  U.S. Department of Agriculture the short answer is ‘No’.

Beef muscle not exposed to oxygen (in vacuum packaging, for example) is burgundy or purplish in color. After exposure to the air for 15 minutes or so, the myoglobin receives oxygen and the meat turns bright, cherry red. After beef has been refrigerated for about five days, it may turn brown. This darkening is due to oxidation, the chemical changes in myoglobin due to the oxygen content. This is a normal change during refrigerator storage. Beef that has turned brown during extended storage may be spoiled, have an off-odor, and be tacky to the touch and should not be used.

Myoglobin and Oxymyoglobin: Two Key Pigments

When meat is fresh, it has the purple-red color that comes from myoglobin, the muscle protein pigment. Accelerated by exposur of air, myoglobin forms deoxymyoglobin which turns the coloration of the meat into cherry-red over time. When myoglobin and oxymyoglobin come into contact with oxygen or metal ions like copper or iron, they form metmyoglobin which makes meat brownish-red.

What is a natural Color of the Meat?

The color of meat is normally a color between pink and red. The color varies from white to dark brown depending on the type of meat, fat percentage and how it was treated before being sold.

Types of Meat and Their Colors

The color of the meat also depends on what type of meat it is.

  • Pork can be a color between light pink and dark red.
  • Chicken has a color that varies from white to brown depending on how fresh it is.
  • Beef comes in different colors such as rosy or bright cherry color (fresh), deep red color (medium) and very little color variation if any (old).
  • Lamb will always have some form of reddish color but without looking bright like beef does; this is because lamb doesn’t contain much fat which results with less bleeding during cooking process.

Store your Meat Carefully, Or Does the vacuum packaging preserve the meat color?

Keep your meats on proper conditions such as:

  • fridge temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 0 Celsius) and away from any type of air, that will help preserve the proper color of the meat during storage;
  • vacuum packaging helps to keep meat freesh much longer. It also prevents discoloration thus oxygen doesn’t enter into contact with meat myoglobin.

Best storage periods of different types of meat in the Refrigerator (40 °F or below):

  • hamburger, ground beef, turkey, chicken, other poultry, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them – 1 to 2 days;
  • fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork (steaks, chops, roasts) – 3 to 5 days

Meat can also become discolored as a result of freezing. It is acceptable as long as the change in color isn’t coupled with other indications of deterioration.

In Conclusion

There are many factors that can affect the color of meat, but browning is not necessarily a sign that your food is spoiled. If you’re wondering if meat turns brown in the fridge, the brownish color simply means that it’s been exposed to oxygen. On occasion, of your meet’s came brown, unless the fridge storage, but there are no other signs of spoilage such an off odor or bad texture it remains edible, according to the official sources. However, your health is paramount, and if you are not sure about the freshness of your meat from the refrigerator, it is better not to use it for cooking.

We still hope this article answered your question about the color of meat in the fridge!