Because of these safety concerns, many countries have banned the use of carbon monoxide in certain foods. The European Union prohibited the use of carbon monoxide in meat and tuna after the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food concluded: “The stable cherry-color can last beyond the microbial shelf life of the meat and thus mask spoilage.” Canada, Japan and Singapore have similarly banned the use of carbon monoxide in tuna.
In addition to the public health concern regarding foodborne illness, Prevent Disease reports:
Carbon monoxide (often referred to as CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, one measly oxygen molecule away from the carbon dioxide we all exhale. But that one molecule makes a big difference in that it does very, very bad things to the human body at very, very low concentrations.
CO is toxic because it sticks to hemoglobin, a molecule in blood that usually carries oxygen, even better than oxygen can.
When people are exposed to higher levels of CO, the gas takes the place of oxygen in the bloodstream and wreaks havoc. Milder exposures mean headaches, confusion, and tiredness. Higher exposures mean unconsciousness and death, and even those who survive CO poisoning can suffer serious long-term neurological consequences.
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