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We often are choosy when it comes to picking a steak up at the grocery store. We might also have the same careful consideration when we order a steak from a restaurant.

One of the things we might look for and, at times it can even make us a little concerned, is the red liquid that soaks into the packaging.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Most people would just consider it to be blood, but according to the American Meat Science Association, it isn’t blood at all.

What they say is that it is a byproduct that is known as purge. It is also sometimes called weep. Rather than being blood that is coming out of the muscle, it is a combination of water and myoglobin. It has more to do with the way the meat is being transported, including any time it spends frozen and when it is defrosted.

Photo: flickr/pabrigo

At this point, you are likely wondering what myoglobin is. It’s a type of protein that is found in the skeletal and cardiac muscles of most animals. The protein would bind to oxygen and iron. It’s in our bodies, as well as in the bodies of most mammals that we consume.

Meat is typically frozen in transport and it may even be frozen at the grocery store. When that occurs, the water inside of it creates ice crystals, expands, and cuts the cells of the muscle.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After the ice crystals defrost, the water molecules shrink and leak out into the packaging along with some of the myoglobin. Since it is a red color, we often associate it with blood. This also has to do with why steak seems as if they shrink when they are cooked because they lose the ability to hold onto water and it leaks out in the cooking process.

There may be some blood that is coming out of meat if we get it fresh at a local butcher shop. In most cases, however, animals are bled thoroughly and most of the blood is removed during that process.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

They freeze the food while it is being transported to the store for sale to keep it from going bad. When it is defrosted and put out on the shelf, the red liquid is just a natural byproduct of the process.

Watch the video below to learn more:

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