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Is That Blood in My Steak?

The Answer to the Age Old Question

By Matthew HarrisonPublished 5 years ago 3 min read

The short answer to this question is no.

The reason why is as follows. Beefsteak is a type of steak commonly eaten, that can be served in a variety of different ways, including the way it can be cooked which are: raw, blue rare, medium rare, medium well-done, well-done.

Many people avoid eating raw to medium rare steak because they believe that blood is present, as red liquid can be seen coming out of the steak. This is a large contributing factor as to why people don't eat raw steak but the red liquid is in fact myoglobin, which is the protein that delivers oxygen to an animal's muscles. This protein turns red when meat is cut, or exposed to air.

What is the purpose of myoglobin? Myoglobin (symbol Mb or MB) is an iron and oxygen-binding protein found in the muscle tissue of vertebrates in general and in almost all mammals. It is related to Hemoglobin, which is the iron and oxygen-binding protein in blood, specifically in the red blood cells.

The reason for the changing colour as it cooked is due to the oxidation state caused by the cooking process

"Myoglobin contains hemes, pigments responsible for the colour of red meat. The colour that meat takes is partly determined by the degree of oxidation of the myoglobin. In fresh meat the iron atom is in the ferrous (+2) oxidation state bound to an oxygen molecule (O2). Meat cooked well done is brown because the iron atom is now in the ferric (+3) oxidation state, having lost an electron." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myoglobin)


The animal itself is drained of blood at the slaughterhouse before being packaged and distributed to the consumer. The second argument would be, well isn't raw beef dangerous to eat anyway? Which is a valid question but as raw beef isn't safe to eat, it is just safer to eat compared to other meats. But rare beef, where the surface of the meat is cooked, is safe to eat, because the meat is so dense, any pathogenic bacteria cannot penetrate the surface.

The other reason beef is relatively safer to eat than other meats raw is that it rarely contains parasites that can infect us whereas other meats do. It's worth noting that pathogenic bacteria can penetrate the surface of the meat if it is left out at room temperature for a long time.

For those interested in other processes associated with steak the way they are aged for flavour may be of interest. Many steaks are aged which adds another interesting process to how the meat goes from animal to plate. When a steak is aged, it is left to allow for the enzymes that are naturally present in the steak to break down the the muscle tissue, which in turn improves the flavour and texture to the meat. This can be done in shrink wrap, which is known as wet-aging. The other way to age a steak is drying, which adds dehydration to the process which is also said to add flavour to the steak, although it will decrease the mass of the steak by around 20 percent. If this is a process you are interested in trying yourself check out this guide on how to dry age steak.

The taste of Steak can be enhanced in combination with a vast amount of different sides and preparation techniques. It's a staple of many people's diets and as a species it's been said there's evidence of tools to cut and eat meat dating 2.6 million years ago.

Remember to always do your research about food and to always make sure that it is safe before eating it.


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