White meat

White meat
Roast chicken, the most commonly eaten white meat

White meat or light meat refers to the lighter-colored meat of poultry as contrasted with dark meat. In a more general sense, white meat may also refer to any lighter-colored meat, as contrasted with red meats like beef and some types of game.



The exact definite demarcation line may be changing. Game is sometimes put in a separate category of meat altogether (French viandes noires, black meats).[1]


Given nutritional concerns, meat producers are eager to have their products considered as "white", and the United States National Pork Board has positioned their product as "Pork. The Other White Meat", alongside poultry and fish; however, meats which are red when raw and turn white on cooking, like pork, are sometimes categorized by the United States Department of Agriculture as red meats.[2] This categorization is controversial as some types of fish, such as tuna, are red when raw and turn white when cooked; similarly, certain types of poultry that are sometimes grouped as "white meat" are actually "red" when raw, such as duck and goose. The debate is mainly one of semantics as nutritionists consider all meat from mammals to be "red meat" while this is not the case in other fields such as husbandry, biology, genetics, physiology, etc.

In Israel, where Jewish dietary laws are popularly practiced, forbidding the consumption of pork, the usage of the word "hazir" ("pig" and also "pork") is taboo, "white meat" is the accepted way to refer to pork.[3]


Within poultry, there are two types of meats—white and dark. The different colors are based on the different locations and uses of the muscles. Dark meats occur in the legs, which are used to support the weight of the animals while they move. These muscles are designed to develop endurance for long-term use and contain a large amount of myoglobin, allowing the muscle to use oxygen more efficiently for aerobic respiration. In contrast the white meat, generally found within the breasts of the birds, are used for quick bursts of power which requires little of the meat-darkening myoglobin. Note that this holds for ground-based birds like chicken and turkeys – birds which use their chest muscles for sustained flight (such as geese and ducks) have dark meat throughout their bodies.[4] There are only slightly more calories and fat in dark meat, and dark meat contains more vitamins.[5]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • White meat — White White (hw[imac]t), a. [Compar. {Whiter} (hw[imac]t [ e]r); superl. {Whitest}.] [OE. whit, AS. hw[imac]t; akin to OFries. and OS. hw[=i]t, D. wit, G. weiss, OHG. w[=i]z, hw[=i]z, Icel. hv[=i]tr, Sw. hvit, Dan. hvid, Goth. hweits, Lith.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • white meat — noun uncount 1. ) meat such as chicken or PORK that is pale after you have cooked it. Meat that is dark after cooking is called red meat. 2. ) meat from the top part of a bird, for example its wing or its breast. Meat from the lower part is… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • white meat — meat of poultry, pigs, etc., as opposed to red meat, is recorded from 1752; earlier it meant foods prepared from milk (early 15c.). Black slang sense of white women as sex partners is from 1920s …   Etymology dictionary

  • white meat — n. 1. any light colored meat, as veal, pork, the breast of poultry, etc. 2. [ME hwitmete < OE: see WHITE & MEAT] Now Dial. cheese, butter, or some other dairy product …   English World dictionary

  • white meat — white meats N UNCOUNT: also N in pl White meat is meat such as chicken and pork, which is pale in colour after it has been cooked …   English dictionary

  • white meat — n [U] the pale coloured meat from the breast, wings etc of a cooked chicken, ↑turkey, or other bird →↑redmeat …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • white meat — ► NOUN ▪ pale meat such as poultry, veal, and rabbit …   English terms dictionary

  • white meat —    1. the breast of cooked poultry    As with dark meat1, now standard English, with Victorian prudery forgotten.    2. a white woman viewed sexually    The converse of dark meat2, but also used of the aspirations of a white man living among… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • white meat — a commercial measure of fish flesh colour, e.g. canned tuna is white meat or white tuna when it has a diffused luminous reflectance of not less than 33.7% of that of magnesium oxide when measured by a prescribed method. Equivalent to 6.3 Munsell… …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • white-meat tuna — noun Etymology: white meat : albacore; also : the canned flesh of this fish …   Useful english dictionary

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