Deli meats

I have a very good question. I am using a 2 door sliding Coke cooler to keep deli meats in and fixings for salads dressings and such, it has a fluorescent light bulb, why is it that the deli meats turn gray when I have the fluorescent light on if I shut the light off everything is fine

That is a good question! I always assumed meat turned gray from exposure to air…I was told it is the blood oxidizing. Never heard of the florescent thing before but I wouldn’t be surprised if the florescent light was burning off some sort of vitamins, enzymes, or something. I have to try that with my deli meat. Salami goes gray real quick.

I had a health inspector tell me that I had to have the lights working in the cooler so she could see if it was clean. I told her the reason I took them out could be found at the site:

Here is part of what is there:

Light induced changes in food usually begin in one of two ways: 1) light is absorbed by a component in the product that will directly undergo chemical reaction or 2) one component in a food causes some other component to undergo reaction because of light.
Deterioration can occur when light sensitive constituents, like those shown below, are exposed to light.
[]Vitamins – Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin
]Pigments – Anthocyanins, Carotenoids, Chlorophylls, Myoglobin, Hemoglobin
[]Amino Acids – Tryptophan, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Histidine
]Fats – Unsaturated fatty acids, Phospholipids
A wide variety of foods can undergo changes in color, flavor, and nutrient composition when exposed to light. The extent of these changes depends on many factors including the composition of the food and the light source. Not all types of natural or artificial light are equally absorbed or equally destructive.

@Daddio does it again!

"Meats. Fresh meats exposed to oxygen usually have a desirable, cherry red color. When exposed to visible light for long periods, the pigment at the surface of the meat slowly changes to a brownish gray color. Ultraviolet light causes a rapid fading of fresh meat color as well as accelerates the development of rancidity in the meat fat.

Cured meats like ham and luncheon meats undergo a more rapid light-induced color change than do fresh meats. Cured meat contains nitrite, which combines with natural meat pigments, to give these products their characteristic pink color. On exposure to light in the presence of oxygen, these nitroso-compounds are converted to a brownish gray color. This undesirable color is called light fading and it can be prevented by vacuum packaging the meat. Packaging it in oxygen impermeable films or by using opaque packaging materials."

We do use a food saver vacuum packing machine in some of our things…you should think about picking one up too it has saved us a lot of waist. Kmart sells them cheaper than most places.

The beverage type cooler do not have NSF certification for anything but beverages and un opened for resale type pre packaged products.

George Mills

Just checked all of my refrigeration/freezer units and not one has NSF certification indicated on the unit. The manufacturers are True, Habco, Coldstream, MKE, and General. How would one go about proving NSF to a fussy inspector?

That is weird, because none of my refrigerated table have any interior lighting and it is not an issue, inspectors are sometimes fun.

If you have someone that is handy with electrical you could install a micro-switch to turn the light on when the door is opened like a cooler with a solid door would do. You might also try storing the meats in opaque or translucent containers.

How would one go about proving NSF to a fussy inspector?

Inspectors usually have a list of certified units.

Check with NSF on the internet


It should be on the plate with the model and serial number.
I heard about them changing this back in late 90’ s or early 2000. Whenever they upgraded to the new gas for coolant.
My Pepsi cooler has a huge notice that it is only NSF compliant for sealed bottles and packages. My miscellaneous merchandiser has a smaller notice of this.

@George Mills

I happen to have one of those “Fussy Inspectors” you speak of, they can be a real pain in the butt, What it comes down to is if your state/county codes say they requires coolers to be NSF listed or not, Chances are that requirement is not written in applicable law (Unless you are in MN)