Washington, DC—Today, Representative Edward J. Markey, senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said he would introduce legislation to ban the use of carbon monoxide gas to make packaged meat look artificially fresh if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not immediately revoke its June 2004 decision to allow the practice.  The Washington Post reported today that food companies have begun to use the trick recently to change the color of packaged meat so that the meat will look safe and fresh even if it has aged and spoiled. 

Rep. Markey said, “Companies are packaging meat with carbon monoxide to make consumers believe that the meat is fresher than it actually is. This practice does not provide any public health benefit.  The sole purpose of this technology is to mislead consumers.  The FDA should not stand for Food Deception Administration – they should be working to protect the interests of the American consumer, not to protect the meat companies from consumer concerns about fresh produce.”

Rep. Markey said, “The color of the meat is one key indicator used by consumers to determine whether the meat they are buying is fresh but the carbon monoxide keeps the meat looking pink and safe for weeks even if the meat is old and has spoiled. The meat looks fresh and there is no notice on the package that tells consumers they shouldn’t trust their eyes.  This practice is deceptive and could put the consumer at risk for food poisoning.”

“The European Union has banned the use of carbon monoxide because of its potential to ‘mask the visual evidence of spoilage,’ but the FDA made a contrary decision without any formal evaluation, solicitation of public comments or independent investigation of the risks associated with the practice.”

“I urge the FDA to immediately reconsider their decision and ban this deceptive practice. If the FDA does not take steps to protect consumers from this deceptive practice, I will introduce legislation to prevent its use.” said Rep. Markey.


February 20, 2006


CONTACT: Tara McGuiness