Target asks for carbon-monoxide warning labels on packaged meat

by Randy McIlwain

Target is asking permission from the federal government to put warning labels on meat packages that use carbon monoxide.

Debbie Snyder of Fresco, Texas said she bought what looked like a fresh package of ground beef at a nearby Super Target

"It looked great, fresh, really red," Snyder said. "It was extremely, extremely spoiled," Snyder said.

Snyder said the smell of the opened package of meat filled her home.

"It almost knocked me over, it was so bad," she said.

Snyder called Target's corporate office, and the company told her it uses carbon monoxide in its packing.

Joan Uselton-Hamms, who owns Hamms Butcher Shop in McKinney, said the use of carbon monoxide in meat packaging conceals meat's age, keeping it red longer. It is legal, she said.

"It just makes it look like it's fresher than what it really is," Uselton-Hamms said.

Target said its meat products exceed all federal guidelines for safety, but the corporation "is working to add (warning) labels to those products that encourage guests not to rely on color or the use or freeze-by date alone" to judge product freshness.

Snyder said the labels would help. But she said she may quit buying pre-packaged meat, unwilling to risk her family's health when looks can be deceiving.

"I was going to stick it right in the freezer without opening the package," she said.

Top meat producers Hormel and Cargill endorse the use of labels to inform customers when carbon monoxide is used in the packaging of meat.