Does ostrich meat fall under red meat?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Ostrich meat is indeed classified as a red meat. Despite being an avian species, the classification of ostrich meat as red meat is primarily due to its reddish color before cooking. Red meats, in general, are characterized by their higher myoglobin content, which gives them a darker, redder appearance compared to white meats.

The reason behind ostrich meat’s classification as red meat lies in the composition of its muscles. Ostriches are flightless birds and have evolved to have muscles that are primarily built for extended activities such as walking and standing. These muscles, known as slow-twitch muscles, contain a higher concentration of myoglobin, a protein that binds to oxygen and helps provide energy to the muscles during prolonged activity.

Myoglobin is responsible for the reddish color of the meat, as it reacts with oxygen and forms a stable pigment called oxymyoglobin, which has a bright red hue. This is why ostrich meat appears red even before it is cooked. In contrast, white meats, such as chicken and turkey, contain predominantly fast-twitch muscles that are designed for quick bursts of activity and have lower myoglobin content.

The classification of ostrich meat as red meat has implications in terms of its nutritional composition. Red meats are generally higher in fat content compared to white meats, and ostrich meat is no exception. However, it is worth noting that ostrich meat is considered to be a lean red meat, as it has a lower fat content compared to meats like beef or pork.

From a culinary standpoint, ostrich meat is often compared to beef due to its taste and texture. It is known for being rich in flavor and having a tender and juicy texture when cooked properly. Ostrich meat can be prepared in various ways, including grilling, roasting, and pan-searing, and it is often recommended to cook it to medium-rare or medium to preserve its tenderness.

In terms of personal experience, I have had the opportunity to try ostrich meat on a few occasions. I found it to be quite delicious, with a distinct flavor that is reminiscent of beef but with a slightly milder taste. The texture was indeed tender and juicy, making it an enjoyable alternative to traditional red meats.

To summarize, ostrich meat is classified as a red meat due to its reddish color before cooking, which is attributed to the higher myoglobin content in the slow-twitch muscles of ostriches. Although it is considered a red meat, ostrich meat is relatively lean compared to other red meats and offers a unique taste and texture that sets it apart.