white meat

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English[edit]

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Noun[edit]

white meat (countable and uncountable, plural white meats)

  1. The breast portion of poultry.
  2. Meats whose color, either before or after cooking, is considered white as opposed to red, including poultry, seafood, and in some uses, even pork, or alternatively, .

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Usage notes[edit]

In sense “flesh of certain animals”, which animals are considered white meat is a matter of some dispute and differing usage. In casual usage, any meat which is white at some point may be referred to as white meat, but in technical usage the term is used more narrowly.

Gastronomically, meat that is white before cooking is generally considered white meat, while nutritionally, white versus red is determined by myoglobin content, and white meat refers to poultry and fish meat.

Chicken breast meat is the archetypal white meat, and gastronomically, chicken and rabbit are categorically considered white meat, while cow, sheep, and horse meat are considered red. Generally the meat of milk-fed veal and pork are considered white, while the meat of ducks and goose are considered red.

More loosely, the term may be used for all poultry, even if the meat is red, as in duck. Fish is also generally referred to as white meat, both for white fish (which is white before and after cooking) and, in some uses, for fattier fish such as salmon and tuna – note that salmon remains red when cooked, while tuna turns white. Seafood (invertebrates) may also be referred to as white meat, particularly if actually white before or after cooking, as in shrimp, oysters, or scallops.

Rather more controversial is the categorization of pork, which turns white when cooked, but is from a mammal. Nutritionists and the United States Department of Agriculture use red meat to refer to meat of mammals (livestock), and in this usage, pork is a red meat. Since red meats – notably beef, lamb, which are red when cooked, but also pork, which is white when cooked – are often considered unhealthy, the United States National Pork Board used the advertising slogan “Pork. The Other White Meat” in the period 1987–2011 to suggest that pork was healthy and position it as a poultry alternative.

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