Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Documentary" comes up short

The History Channel had a show Wednesday evening about meat processing: "Modern Marvels: The Butcher."

The show description reads like you might expect from a legitimate documentary, but there was this little question of truth and lies.

The show included a segment on the cutting edge of U.S. meat packaging. And what, pray tell, is on that cutting edge? If you watched the show, you would think meat packagers are adding oxygen to packages to keep the meat looking fresh. Of course, carbon also is being added to the packaging at the same time, because what packagers are *really* adding is carbon monoxide.

The compound isn't supposed to be harmful at the levels being used in packaging, and it is credited with keeping meat looking fresh longer, which retailers and producers say is crucial to sales. But carbon monoxide use in packaging was banned by the European Commission, according to various wire reports, because its use could mask spoilage.

Is it safe? Is it dangerous?

Well, those are good questions, but they went unanswered, and worse, unasked in the History Channel's show. Feedback on other shows at the channel's message boards and the way the packaging segment was reported suggest this oversight was intentional. I'm not impressed.

1 comment:

Johnny Yen said...

I'm surprised someone didn't catch the fact that adding oxygen is exactly opposite of what you'd want to do-- it's oxidation that spoils meat, rusts metal, degrades plastic, etc.