Red or White?

Hello again, in this post I  am going to discuss what many consider to be a very confusing fact- that pork is considered a red meat. What!? You might say, “Didn’t the National Pork Board in the U.S. dub pork as ‘the other white meat’ how is it possible then that pork is a red meat?” Well let me tell you my friend.

First off, a bit of history. In the mid 80’s, when health-conscience consumers decided that red meat was unhealthy, the pork industry lost sales dramatically. In an effort to regain lost ground, the Pork Council started a “The other white meat” in 1987. The Other White Meat campaign was developed to position pork as a good tasting, versatile and nutritious meat that is easy to prepare and appropriate for any meal.   Since its inception, The Other White Meat campaign has gained tremendous recognition with consumers.

The success of the Other White Meat campaign, even though it was U.S.-based, had a positive influence on the Canadian pork industry; even today I often get asked whether or not pork is a red meat. Although cooked pork is generally white in appearance and as lean as chicken, it is still officially considered a red meat. Pork is considered a red meat, along with beef, lamb, and goat because ‘Red’ meat is categorized in two ways:

  1. Although cooked pork is generally white in appearance, it is still officially red.
    The reason is a little technical: oxygen is delivered to muscles by the red cells in the blood. One of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle. The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of meat. Pork is classified a “red” meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish.
  2. According to a second criterion, pork is classed as “livestock” along with veal, lamb and beef. All livestock with a cloven hove, as opposed to poultry, are considered “red meat.”

Whichever means of classification one chooses, pork is a red meat. The significance of this classification, beyond that of colour, is open to debate. The fact that pork is low in fat similar to poultry and contains a high level of nutrients makes it a healthy choice for consumers. There are many cuts of pork that are very lean and healthy that also pack a nutritional punch of protein, iron and vitamin B12, so I hope you continue to enjoy pork!

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