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What words describe what could cause pork to emit a soft blue glow?

Imagine this: you buy a piece of meat from your local butcher, take it home, and make a meal with your family with some of it, leaving the left out for a meal tomorrow. Later that night, you notice a soft blue glow emitting from the kitchen. When you go to investigate, you find that it is none other than the leftover raw meat glowing!

Is this something out of a science fiction movie about mutant meat? Not quite. This anecdote and photos of the glowing meat have been circulating on the Internet recently. The meat in question was bought from a wet market in Shanghai. It sounds like no one became ill from eating the meat, but the family did not consume any more of it when they discovered it was glowing.

While it remained unconfirmed, scientists hypothesized that the reason for the glow was related to bacteria contamination by the likes of pseudomonas cyanagenus, a phosphorescent bacterium.

Pseudomonas phosphorescens are light-emitting organisms that naturally occur in a variety of environments but are best known for living in seawater. The salty, cold conditions they enjoy make them problematic in chilling rooms and meat refrigerators.

Photoluminescence is a process in which a substance absorbs electromagnetic radiation (photons) and re-radiates them. The emission of light is the result of atoms excited by an energy source other than heat.

Phosphorescence is a kind of photoluminescence in which the material that absorbed radiation does not immediately re-radiate. When it does, it radiates at a lower intensity than the light that was originally absorbed. This is the same thing that happens with glow-in-the-dark materials (remember glow worms?).

Pseudomonas (literally, false unit) is a genus of bacteria pathogenic to animals and plants containing approximately 455 species.

Cyanogen is a species of within the genus pseudomonas capable of producing cyanide, an extremely poisonous flammable gas. The root of the word cyanide is from cyan, blue, because it was originally obtained from the pigment dye Prussian blue.

A separate and well-documented incident of blue glowing pork took place in Changsha, central China, in February 2010. Residents reported a blue glow from pork bought from several sources throughout the city including wet markets and supermarkets. The glowing residue would transfer onto hands and surfaces that had contact with the contaminated meat. City authorities investigated and reassured residents that the meat was safe to eat but were met with some skepticism.

48 Comments

  1. me -  May 6, 2011 - 1:43 pm

    that’s why I don’t eat pork

    Reply
  2. MAC -  May 6, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    I won’t eat it!

    Reply
  3. kurt -  May 2, 2011 - 3:56 pm

    Glowing pork, so can we make it into a paint form and cut down on night time light use?

    Reply
  4. Curly -  April 27, 2011 - 12:41 pm

    I was going to say exactly what mark V said: There is always bacteria on raw meat, which is why we don’t eat it raw. This kind just happens to be visible.

    Reply
  5. jogvonheron -  April 21, 2011 - 6:40 am

    This story doesn’t sound Kosher.

    Reply
  6. DDTalk -  April 20, 2011 - 3:03 pm

    I would Never eat it.
    But maybe it’s true, if you eat it and it doesn’t kill you,
    it makes you stronger?
    Which body part doesn’t have a job? the appendix?
    Maybe that’s what it for??

    Reply
  7. word junkie -  April 19, 2011 - 8:18 am

    I agree with Sarah. Who does that??

    Reply
  8. Lando -  April 19, 2011 - 5:47 am

    Alzheimers and Mad Cow are completely different; the only thing they have in common is that they damage brain function.

    Reply
  9. #1 Skillet Fan -  April 18, 2011 - 3:40 pm

    @Mike McKelvy: you’re absolutely right! I’m not Jewish or Muslim, but I don’t eat pork simply because its not good for you.

    Reply
  10. mark V -  April 18, 2011 - 2:14 pm

    The MEAT was not glowing. It was BACTERIA on the meat.
    All raw meat has bacteria in it, that is the point of cooking it. Not all meat has THAT bacteria on it.
    Be less woried about this one visibly identifiable strain, and more about the several trillion everywhere else, and also parasites.
    And that fact that Alzheimers and Mad Cow are essentially the same thing.

    Bon apetité

    Reply
  11. smoothius -  April 18, 2011 - 6:52 am

    blue eggs and ham for sam i am?

    Reply
  12. louis paiz -  April 18, 2011 - 6:14 am

    THAT YOUNG PEOPLE COMPANY EXIST IN GERMANY. THANKS AGAIN

    Reply
  13. Mike McKelvy -  April 17, 2011 - 1:00 pm

    Pork was forbidden bc of Trichinosis!

    Reply
  14. Anam -  April 16, 2011 - 10:25 pm

    Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork for a reason: God forbade it long ago.

    Reply
  15. Huy -  April 16, 2011 - 9:36 pm

    Ok where do I buy this? Why can’t people see the potential for a market boom on glowing meat?

    Reply
  16. Edmund -  April 16, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    This is AWESOME!!! But i wont eat it… >_<|||

    Reply
  17. Turing -  April 16, 2011 - 8:19 pm

    Really, this isn’t anything new. People wondered about this phenomenon during the Renaissance and there’s even a joke about it in Thomas Shadwell’s “The Virtuoso”:

    Sir Nicholas: No, I eclipse the light of rotten wood, stinking whitings and thornbacks, and putrid flesh, when it becomes lucid.

    Longvil: Will stinking flesh give light like rotten wood?

    Sir Nicholas: O yes. There was a lucid sirloin beef in the Strand. Foolish people thought it burned when it only became lucid and crystalline by the coagulation of the aqueous juice of the beef by the corruption that invaded it. ‘Tis frequent. I myself have read a Geneva Bible by a leg of pork.

    Bruce: How, a Geneva Bible by a leg of pork!

    Sir Nicholas: O ay, ’tis the finest light in the world. But for all that, I could eclipse the leg of porn in my receiver by pumping out the air. But immediately upon the appulse of the air let in again, it becomes lucid as before.

    (v.ii.26-32)

    Reply
  18. Sinclair -  April 16, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    I just thought it was the acid flashbacks

    Reply
  19. Lorax -  April 16, 2011 - 3:17 pm

    another good reason to be vegetarian = )

    Reply
  20. Chaos -  April 16, 2011 - 3:02 pm

    Good thing I’m a vegetarian, heheh..

    I just have to deal with mutant celery and bloodthirsty cabbages.

    Thank you, nuclear runoff into vegtable farms >.>

    Reply
  21. Ray Shell -  April 16, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    OMG. Wow. That’s col how it happens. I think I would want blue pork even though it’s contamnated and stuff. I think I’ll only get it to see it personally, not to eat it. Now people will se that not everything is about ghosts and stuff. There’s actually scientific reasoning behind it.

    Seriously, people NEED to check China’s food and other products. They have too many faults.

    That sounds like sterotyping– saying all of China’s stuff are bad, so I think the everything should be checked.

    But it’s stil cool though. :p

    Reply
  22. Sarah -  April 16, 2011 - 2:06 pm

    Why would you leave leftover raw pork out on the counter? That’s just stupid.

    Reply
  23. gary -  April 16, 2011 - 12:16 pm

    In Hawaii, we see a similar reaction on raw fish dishes like sahshimi. It’s not glowing blue, but a rainbow kind of effect. It’s a helpful sign that warns the consumer to be careful because the item is not fresh. Can’t always rely on the color as a warning anymore as the markets now selling fish treated with carbon monoxide. Hope they don’t start doing the same with pork or beef!

    Reply
  24. eCoach -  April 16, 2011 - 12:11 pm

    If its dead or moving slowly I’m game.
    Never turned down anything.
    Maybe I’m might not eat North Japanese Kobe Beef.

    Reply
  25. Lefty -  April 16, 2011 - 11:39 am

    I guess what don’t kill you will make you stronger!!

    Reply
  26. Betsy -  April 16, 2011 - 11:30 am

    this has never happened 2 my family but if it did at least now i would b able 2 explain it 2 them. i almost hope it does happen.
    p.s. like they said–it’s fine 2 eat, “kissthiz”! how old r u, anyhow, if ur gonna act like that?

    Reply
  27. Emily -  April 16, 2011 - 11:28 am

    Eww…idc if it is harmless, i don’t want to knowingly eat bacteria…and i don’t eat pork considering how bad it is for you.

    Reply
  28. mif -  April 16, 2011 - 11:07 am

    ready to glow .

    Reply
  29. lauren -  April 16, 2011 - 10:55 am

    things are becoming unpredictable. But, science is growing and they can thankfully explain these sort of things. boy, would i hate to be a scientist!

    Reply
  30. Uptowngirl50 -  April 16, 2011 - 10:27 am

    I agree with oh so pogi, to see dead meat move would be eztrememly scary! Seeing it glow AND move would be scarier still…

    Reply
  31. Crystal -  April 16, 2011 - 10:10 am

    Ha! I don’t eat meat anyway… but if I did, the responses given would not at all be comforting.

    Phosphorescence? Yeah, that shouldn’t be in meat. Meat is not a glow in the dark toy.

    Electromagnetic radiation? No, thanks. I’ll avoid as much as POSSIBLE.

    Cyanogen and poisonous flammable gasses? mmm yummy!

    Wow… just wow

    Reply
  32. Eyewitness -  April 16, 2011 - 9:42 am

    The only problem I have with this is: what if your kitchen decor doesn’t go with blue? Now THAT’S a problem. Maybe the pork sellers could include color swatches?

    Reply
  33. sourav dutta -  April 16, 2011 - 9:09 am

    now thats not something you see everyday… I once did have some left over chinese food that made me see spots…

    Reply
  34. Kaito -  April 16, 2011 - 9:06 am

    Woaaahhhh…that sounds epic. :O
    I wish I had some leftover pork just so I could watch it glow. xDD

    Reply
  35. Silver Fang -  April 16, 2011 - 8:43 am

    Pork gets its own Cyanogen ROM.

    Reply
  36. Kissthiz -  April 16, 2011 - 8:41 am

    Urp!! I WON’T eat it! They are prolly poisoning us!

    Reply
  37. Benjamin -  April 16, 2011 - 6:29 am

    I don’t know much about the Shanghai case but as an expat here, buying meat from the markets in China, they usually have it stamped. Yes a big blue stamp on the skin of the pork and as much as you wash it it won’t live but I guess if you don’t want to be greedy you can cut that portion off.

    Overall like it someone said better to err on the side of caution. By the way by and large food is safe here minus a few ones just like any where else in this world. Just take precautions and don’t be cheap with things your body consumes. For clothes, electronics, who cares if it is fake.

    Glowing meat, welcome to the New Age. Soon people will be glowing in the dark.

    Reply
  38. Marc -  April 16, 2011 - 5:30 am

    How long now before this shows up on FoodTv or Bravo?

    Reply
  39. Devil Master -  April 16, 2011 - 5:25 am

    Oh so Pogi: I saw some unprocessed pork that moved by itself. It also made noises like “oink, oink” :-D

    Reply
  40. Cyberquill -  April 16, 2011 - 1:04 am

    Never seen glowing pork, but I’ve seen plenty of light-emitting pumpkins during Halloween.

    Reply
  41. Belinda -  April 15, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    Oh , I remember well the night I got up in the wee hours and prawns leftover from the night before in the kitchen were glowing green- blue. None of us became unwell, but the pet magpie did die! And I still love prawns.

    Reply
  42. Boo Boo :) -  April 15, 2011 - 8:10 pm

    I am glowing now after reading this.

    Reply
  43. SHELLEY -  April 15, 2011 - 8:09 pm

    I am so very glad to learn of the reason behind this glow….I can’t even begin to add up the pounds of pork that I have disposed of due to the the strange colour…..I always thoroughly rinse my meat prior to re-packing in preparation for freezing or storing for sandwiches. My thought was that the meat had either been left out too long prior to pacing or was in the early stages of rot……yet, the meat did not smell….seemed to be a paradox…..but when you’re dealing with your family and their health, it’s always prudent to err on the side of caution. I do have a question however, does this also occur on beef, and more specifically, beef lunchmeat, specifically,that which is cut directly from the original whole?
    If there is a webmaster, I would really, really appreciate a responce to this or a webside with which to refer.
    Thank you so very much. S.A. O.

    Reply
  44. Antigone -  April 15, 2011 - 5:53 pm

    Wonderful! :D

    Reply
  45. Francis -  April 15, 2011 - 5:25 pm

    Glowing pork? Weird stuff I’ll say

    Reply
  46. Oh so Pogi -  April 15, 2011 - 5:23 pm

    Science is advancing to the age of the unknown and the uncanny. It’s kind of creepy if it glowed to blue, but it will be much more scary if it STARTED TO MOVE!

    but that’s too much sci-fi :)

    Reply

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