Meat MythCrushers

The Meat MythCrusher video series seeks to bust some of the most common myths surrounding meat and poultry production and processing. This is a  joint project of the American Meat Science Association and the North American Meat Institute.

Myth: 800 Studies Found Meat Causes Cancer



The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), reviewed 800 studies during its evaluation of red and processed meat, but it only based its findings suggesting a relationship between meat and cancer on a very limited number of the 800 studies. In both cases, some studies showed a link to cancer and others did not. In addition, the panel reviewing the studies did not unanimously agree about the claimed association between meat and cancer.


Myth: Meat Is the Only Product from Animals Raised for Food



It varies by animal, but in many cases half of an animal does not go toward meat. For cattle, 44 percent of the animal is not used for food and in pigs 30 percent of the animal goes to other sources. Other animal products include the hides, skins, hair, hoofs, horns, feet, heads, bones, blood, organs, glands, and intestines.1

1Where’s the (Not) Meat? Byproducts From Beef and Pork Production Economic Research Service/USDA, November 2011.

Myth: Antibiotics are Primarily Used for Growth Promotion


Based on industry data, only 13%1 of antibiotics are used for growth promotion and this practice is being phased out. In 2013, FDA requested that the use of antibiotics for growth promotion be halted by 2016. Every company who produces antibiotics for animals has committed to this plan and they will withdraw their products for growth promotion use. Additional guidance requirements also mean that all therapeutic uses of antibiotics to treat, control, or prevent specific diseases will take place under the oversight of licensed veterinarians.2

Myth: If Meat Turns Brown, That Means It Is Spoiled


Red meat products are somewhat like sliced apples. Their color can change rapidly – even though the product is still safe and wholesome. In fact, retail stores often discount red meat products that have changed color but are still safe and wholesome – and well within their shelf life. These color changes in foods like apples and meat are the result of chemical changes caused by oxygen exposure. 1

The untouched surface color of fresh meat such as cherry-red for beef is highly unstable and short-lived. When meat is fresh and protected from contact with air (such as in vacuum packages), it has the purple-red color that comes from myoglobin, one of the two key pigments responsible for the color of meat. When exposed to air, myoglobin forms the pigment, oxymyoglobin, which gives meat a pleasant cherry-red color. The use of a plastic wrap that allows oxygen to pass through it helps ensure that the cut meats will retain this bright red color. However, exposure to store lighting as well as the continued contact of myoglobin and oxymyoglobin with oxygen leads to the formation of metmyoglobin, a pigment that turns meat brownish-red.

Color is also not an appropriate indicator of whether meat is cooked. The only clear way to tell if meat is cooked thoroughly is to use a meat thermometer to ensure it has reached the recommended internal temperature for that meat.

Video Podcasts and Webinars

  • Grass or grain? Is there a definitively sustainable beef production system?


    The webinar examined the science relating to grass-fed and grain-fed beef in terms of sustainable... read more »

  • 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Update


    Kris Sollid, Registered Dietitian with the International Food Information Council and Sarah Romo... read more »

  • Meat in the Diet


    read more »

Social Media

  • We know that food safety is a major concern you face as a consumer. Here are some simple steps that you can follow to ensure that you are feeding your family the safest food possible. When preparing food, just follow the 4 C’s of food safety: Clean, don’t Cross Contaminate, Cook, and Chill.
  • Fun Fact Friday! September is Food Safety Month! So here is a review of all things food safety for meats you need to know!
  • Fun Fact Friday! Many people are afraid to get frozen product because they will have to thaw it. But it's not that bad! Here's everything you need to know about thawing meat products!
  • Did you know pork only has to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit? For more safe cooking temperatures check out our newly added article on!
  • Trivia Tuesday! What is the most common cut of meat used for fajitas?