Almost all of the blood is removed from the meat during slaughter! The red liquid you see is mostly water mixed with a protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin's function is to store oxygen in muscle cells, much like its counterpart hemoglobin does in red blood cells. The myoglobin is a distinct reddish color, so the more myoglobin in your meat, the redder it will appear and the darker it will become when you cook it! The amount of myoglobin also distinguishes between what we call “red” and “white” meat – most mammals have high amounts of the protein, while poultry and fish typically do not contain much myoglobin.
Myoglobin Is What Makes Meat ‘White,' ‘Dark,' or ‘Red'
The level of myoglobin in meat is what ultimately dictates whether it will be “red,” “dark,” or “white.” The muscles in red meat are used for standing, walking, and other frequent activity, and they're made up of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Red meats' high levels of myoglobin make it red or dark in color.
White meat, on the other hand, is made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers and is comprised of muscles used for quick bursts of activity only. They get energy from glycogen and contain little myoglobin.
Some animals, like chickens, contain both white and dark meat, with the dark meat found primarily in their leg muscles. If you've ever wondered why wild poultry contain mostly dark meat, it's because they fly frequently, and the increased muscle usage means the meat contains more myoglobin.
Pigs are often referred to as the “other white meat,” and …
The myoglobin is a common protein, which has the ability to store oxygen in muscle cells. The myoglobin has a high level of red pigment, so the more myoglobin the meat has, the redder it will be. The terms “red meat” and “white meat” are actually an indicator for the level of myoglobin. Most mammals are red meat, because their myoglobin level is high, while most poultry are considered as white meat.
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