Help! Meatloaf is still pink inside, defying all logic.
March 5, 2013 4:13 PM   Subscribe

I bought a pre-made, raw meatloaf from the local grocery store. Tonight I cooked it, in a 375-degree oven for close to an hour and a half. The thing is still pink throughout!

Texture-wise, it is getting dry, but the colour still looks kinda raw to me. I'm willing to eat it, but I don't want to serve it to my pregnant wife if it won't be 100% safe. Why might it still be pink in the middle after all this time? Is it safe to eat? It isn't even that it is pink just in the middle; it is all the way through.

There is nothing in the meatloaf that should affect the colour in this way as far as I know. It's just ground beef, breadcrumbs, and some spinach.
posted by synecdoche to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(I should clarify: I'm going to make something else for my wife. At this point I'm curious, and I still want to eat it...)
posted by synecdoche at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2013

I don't know why it's that way, but when something like this happens to me, I cut it in half and nuke it for 30 seconds at a time until I'm satisfied.

And congratulations!
posted by michellenoel at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

It may have been frozen in the middle. If you're worried about serving to your wife, why don't you just microwave her slices until they are done to your liking?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is one of those times that I'd toss it and eat mac and cheese, or ramen, or whatever, without even investigating further. Even if it is safe, it's hard to know for sure, and I would feel uncomfortable serving food to a woman during pregnancy if I wasn't confident of its safety.

Pink meatloaf just seems like a bad idea.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:17 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

You need to use an oven thermometer to check its internal temperature rather than rely on color. I would want it at 165ยบ to be safe.
posted by notme at 4:17 PM on March 5, 2013 [25 favorites]

Tip: cut into slices and cook it in a hot pan OR a panini/Foreman grill. Delicious!

(This happens. It was probably frozen a little hard in the middle. Assuming this happened just now, all you need to do is finish cooking it.)
posted by Lyn Never at 4:17 PM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Should have previewed. If you want to try it, do what michellenoel or Lyn Never suggests.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:18 PM on March 5, 2013

Do you have a thermometer? That's the best way to check as you want the internal temperature to hit 71C/160F.
posted by ssg at 4:18 PM on March 5, 2013

I used a thermometer and it hit 165 but I didn't trust it because of the colour.
posted by synecdoche at 4:21 PM on March 5, 2013

Speaking of thermometers, your oven's thermometer may be broken, or at the very least inaccurate -- you might not be getting the actual heat it's telling you. Get one of these.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:22 PM on March 5, 2013

At 165 the USDA says you are safe.
posted by notme at 4:24 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do have one and use it in lieu of my oven's thermometer, which usually reads lower than the dial thermometer.

I'm mostly just curious now. I don't think it would have been frozen. I bought it on Sunday and it has been in the fridge since then. Trying to microwave to see what happens while making some grilled cheese.
posted by synecdoche at 4:25 PM on March 5, 2013

Are you sure it's ground beef? Ground turkey always looks raw to me when it's cooked. If the thermometer says its 165 (measuring various locations), I think your judgement of what's raw and what's not may need some adjustement.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:35 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Are you 100% sure your oven is working?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:38 PM on March 5, 2013

I broke it up with a fork and microwaved it for a while and it isn't getting any less pink.

Raw might be an exaggeration, but it definitely is pink. It says it is 100% beef on the package.

Oven is working. Separate thermometer said it was at temperature and it was definitely hot. Everything but the colour seems fine.
posted by synecdoche at 4:40 PM on March 5, 2013

I would try it for 4 minutes in the broiler. If it doesn't turn brown, it's alien meat.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:42 PM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

I used a thermometer and it hit 165 but I didn't trust it because of the colour.

The purpose of the thermometer is so that you will have an objective measure instead of a guess.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:45 PM on March 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

Food dye? Since it's a packaged food item, might it have coloring in it?
posted by R343L at 4:46 PM on March 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

... colour

The OP is British. They are far more averse to rawish /raw looking meat than we are.

Trust the thermometer temperature over color.
posted by Kruger5 at 4:47 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

It may have a spice in it that makes it look pink. I say it must be cooked and is safe to eat.
posted by fifilaru at 4:47 PM on March 5, 2013

can you take some pictures and post them? now i'm curious.
posted by koroshiya at 4:52 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

If its 165, it's safe to eat.
posted by ronofthedead at 4:55 PM on March 5, 2013

Not British, Canadian.

Anyway, I ate some and it tasted fine, but I didn't feed it to my wife. The rest of it is in the garbage can now. I can only assume at this point that there was some kind of spice in it. I'll arrange to have somebody come round and update the thread if I die in the night.
posted by synecdoche at 4:56 PM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Could there have been paprika in the mix? That'll turn things surprisingly reddish in small amounts if it's mixed in thoroughly.
posted by Mizu at 5:00 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it has nitrates in it (and it probably does if it was premade), it won't change color as you expect. Like corned beef.
posted by bensherman at 5:01 PM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

maybe your meat had a high pH? (look for persistent pinkness on that page.)
posted by koroshiya at 5:03 PM on March 5, 2013

I've had the same thing happen...not with every meatloaf, just some. Never had any ill effects ourselves.
posted by Gusaroo at 5:08 PM on March 5, 2013

I get meatloaf from my butcher all the time and even in my little one-person loaf pans they are always pink inside when I follow the butcher's directions. I'm not sure where any idea of it being otherwise came from, but I did notice it too once upon a time. Even so, I've been eating it this way for years and it's been just fine.
posted by rhizome at 5:09 PM on March 5, 2013

It probably had paprika in it, or tomato paste.

Calibrate your thermometer so next time you won't have to worry.
posted by cooker girl at 5:34 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

My hunch would be, as bensherman said, it has some nitrites or nitrates in it. Not unheard of in meatloaf recipes, especially commerically made. They'd help it keep on the shelf longer before you buy/cook it, give it a bit of a "cured" taste, and keep it from turning grey or brown inside. Bottom line, if the internal temp got up to 165, it was cooked through.
posted by voodoochile at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2013

Is it really just ground beef, breadcrumbs, and spinach? Is there an ingredient label? If there's enough celery or celery seed/powder, or certain other vegetables, that might contain enough nitrate to keep the meat pink.
posted by WasabiFlux at 8:17 PM on March 5, 2013

It's the spinach. I was pretty much always taught (albeit by home cooks) that meatloaf will appear a bit pink even when done, because of the presence of other ingredients. Mind you it shouldn't be as pink as absolutely raw ground beef, but a little bit pink (like a medium rare hamburger) is fine.
posted by katyggls at 2:42 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came here to say nitrates as well. Any kind of store bought ground meat product will have a nice healthy dose of them to prolong safe shelf life. Just like how cold cuts and bacon stay pink - but we eat them happily because that's what colour we expect them to be.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:23 AM on March 6, 2013

Yeah, "100% beef" doesn't mean that the thing is pure meat, just that all the meat is beef (as opposed to a mix of beef and lamb or pork, which is common). Meatloaf is always made of a number of things, including binding stuff (often eggs + breadcrumbs), flavorings (tomato products most common, also spices or veggies), etc. Otherwise it's just a huge lump of ground meat, which wouldn't be so tasty. I'd presume pinkness was due to tomato paste or paprika, as cooker girl suggested, or some other combination of ingredients.
posted by acm at 7:09 AM on March 6, 2013

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