Colour and Cooking: Globins: Colour in Meat

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Globins, which provide the red colour in meat, are examples of chelation. They are numerous, and each has a name which consists of -globin with a prefix attached. Some explanation of how one globin changes into another, and so on, promotes understanding of the colour changes in meat, whether fresh, cured, or cooked.

In the meat of a dead animal, some of the colour comes from the red haemoglobin in the blood, but most comes from the myoglobin in the muscle tissue. Fresh myoglobin combines with oxygen from the air to give bright red oxymyoglobin, which is what the surface of recently killed meat exhibits. Inside such meat the unoxygenated myoglobin remains purple.