Why Is Your Embutido Still Pink On The Inside?

You must be wondering if it's safe to eat.

IMAGE Dairy Darilag

It's been said time and time again as a warning: if the inside of the meat is still pink, it's not safe to eat. This philosophy doesn't apply to beef since steaks are served pink (or even red for rare) on the inside when cooked short of well done. This belief is usually applied to pork, chicken, and ground meat.

Many home cooks commonly cook meat and judge by its color. It's a standard for them to think that pink meat is unsafe. Unfortunately, judging doneness by color or food safety is not reliable

The only accurate way to know if your meat is cooked properly as well as safe to consume is by using a meat thermometer. So, if you're a conscientious cook and checked that the temperature of embutido is within the safe range, you might wonder why is the meat pink on the inside. Is it still raw? Is it safe?

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No, it's not raw and yes, it's safe. There are two reasons why: 

1 The meat reacted to the oven heat. 

The heat of the oven can be one reason the meat is still pink. It's not about the temperature but rather how the meat reacted when exposed to the heat. The myoglobin, the same plasma that makes you think your medium-cooked steak is "bleeding", turns red when exposed to oxygen in the air and is responsible for the pink color of meat. This is what can stay pink even when heated to food-safe temperatures. To ensure that harmful bacteria are killed in meat, meat temperatures need to reach 160 degrees F or 70 degrees C. (You can safely remove meat from the heat a few degrees short of this target number due to carryover heat to avoid overcooking.) 

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2 The vegetables contain nitrites. 

Vegetables such as onions, garlic, and celery could be another reason why the meat is still pink. That's because these vegetables naturally contain nitrates. (Natural nitrite should not be confused with synthetic nitrates, a food additive in processed food.) You might have noticed that many cured meat such as bacon, ham, and other deli meats stay pink, and this is because of the reaction between the nitrite in the vegetables and myoglobin

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While the addition of the chemical to these cured meats is intentional, the vegetables naturally have it but it still reacted to the meat to keep it pink. 

So, the next time you see pink in meat you're sure you cooked properly and safely, rest assured that it might just be a chemical reaction that you can't control. 

*** 

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