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What gives Pasture Fresh® grass fed beef its dark red colour?

Ever wondered what gives Pasture Fresh® grass-fed beef its distinct dark red hue? The answer lies in a simple, yet fascinating protein known as myoglobin.


Myoglobin is a protein containing heme iron located in the muscle tissues of animals, including in our own Pasture Fresh® beef cows. A stronger presence of this protein will lead any meat to darken in colour. Studies reveal that Pasture Fresh® beef contains twice the myoglobin found in grain-fed beef, contributing to its deep red shade.

The secret to the rich colour further lies in the diet of Pasture Fresh® cattle, exclusively grazing on nutrient-rich grass. This dietary choice elevates the myoglobin levels, making it more prevalent in muscles that demand increased oxygen during movement.

Grass-fed cattle, with their 100% grass fed diet, introduce more natural pigments and nutrients, leading to higher myoglobin concentrations.

Presence of oxygen:

The interaction of myoglobin with oxygen, which is prevalent in the open air of our Pasture Fresh® farms, creates a protein called oxymyoglobin, which results in a vibrant red colour to the meat. The freedom of movement afforded to the grass-fed cattle increases myoglobin presence. The active lifestyle of grass-fed cattle contributes to leaner and more developed muscles, influencing the meat's darker colour.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E, an antioxidant, plays a key role in preventing myoglobin oxidation. Pasture Fresh® beef benefits from higher vitamin E levels, maintaining the meat's bright red colour. This vitamin abundance is attributed to the cattle's natural diet, ensuring a wholesome, naturally preserved colour. While grain fed meat has around 3.7 µg of Vitamin E per gram of tissue, Pasture Fresh® 100% grass fed cattle has around 9.3 µg of Vitamin E per gram of tissue. Vitamin E is abundant in the fresh, green grass of our Pasture Fresh® farms. As a result, the preservation of myoglobin through this antioxidant leads to a deep red colour to grass-fed meat.


Chlorophyll in the nutrient rich grass of Pasture Fresh’s farms imparts a basic structure to heme, a protein which affects the meat's colour, absorbing yellow and green light making it appear red.

Vitamin A:

Moreover, the intake of beta-carotene from grass (a precursor to Vitamin A), influences the fat colour. Vitamin A is a pigment in green plants that animals will digest when they feed on grass. This increased intake of nutrients causes the meat to turn a darker red colour, and particularly influences the colour of the fat. Pasture Fresh® beef's slightly yellowish fat cap indicates a higher level of beta-carotene and, in turn, a healthier beef option. The yellower the fat, the healthier the beef.


The way meat is packaged also influences its colour and appearance. Removing air when packaging means removing all oxygen; this causes oxidation, which results in a dark hue being seen through the packaging. When the meat is removed, the myoglobin's are again exposed to oxygen, causing the meat to regain its natural red colour.

In summary, the distinctive dark red colour of Pasture Fresh® beef is caused by myoglobin, which, together with Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Chlorophyll, abundant oxygen, and our large grazing pastures, give our 100% grass fed beef its distinctive, vibrant dark red colour.

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