The new video See how Impossible Pork will make you forget about pig meat includes a very short discussion of

  1. the addition of heme to the product to make it taste like beef
  2. the deep red color of a heme solution
  3. that pork is not nearly as red as beef, (after cooking it's essentially off-white)

Does pork (pig/swine muscle tissue) have substantially less heme content than beef (steer/bovine muscle tissue)? If heme is contributing to the flavor of cooked meats (rather than raw) such as pork and beef, why do they no longer have a red color after cooking?

heme is dark red, screen shot from See how Impossible Pork will make you forget about pig meat

  • $\begingroup$ Note that the muscle composition of farm pigs and wild swines will be very different. $\endgroup$
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 13:40

1 Answer 1



Pork has substantially less heme than beef (Cross et al. 2013).

Graphic Pork Beef heme quantity

As to why the red colour is lost, it is due to the Maillard reaction, by which the iron in the myglobin is oxidized from Fe(II) to Fe(III). This results in a colour change in the meat (Tamanna & Mahmood 2015).


  • Cross AJ, Harnly JM, Ferrucci LM, Risch A, Mayne ST, Sinha R. 2013. Developing a heme iron database for meats according to meat type, cooking method and doneness level. Food Nutr Sci 3(7): 905–913.

  • Tamanna N, Mahmood N. 2015. Food Processing and Maillard Reaction Products: Effect on Human Health and Nutrition. International journal of food science 2015: 526762. doi:10.1155/2015/526762

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the concise yet complete and well-sourced answer! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 14:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry for being so concise; in a bit of a hurry. :) The papers referenced are really pretty good reads if you want more info. $\endgroup$
    – rotaredom
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ I'll definitely check them out tomorrow; this turns out to be pretty interesting! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 14:15

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