Selected Countries Prohibiting Carbon Monoxide (CO) Gas in Fresh Meat and Fresh Fish Packaging

European Union

  • Fresh Meat – Prohibited
    • MAP gases are classed as food additives under two Acts, the Directive of food additives (89/107/EEC) and the Directive of the use of food additives other than colours or sweeteners (95/2/EC). In June 2003, The European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted to outlaw carbon monoxide as a food additive, and thus as a MAP gas, because it could mislead the consumer as to the freshness of the meat by maintaining the red colour of the product.
  • Fresh Tuna – Prohibited
    • The use of CO as a food additive is prohibited under Directive 95/2/EC (on food additives other than colours and sweeteners). EU bases their decision on the opinion of the EU Scientific Committee on Food in December 2001 that highlighted the potential for treatment with CO of fresh meat to mask visual evidence of spoiling.


  • Fresh Fish – Prohibited


  • Fresh Tuna – Prohibited
    • The use of CO is considered a malpractice and is not condoned by Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) because it could mislead consumers into thinking the tuna is fresher or of higher value than it actually is. (


  • Fresh Fish – Prohibited
    • Issued a notice to ban fish that have an initial CO content ≥ 500 µg/kg, or an initial content ≥ 200 µg/kg which decreases significantly during two days refrigerated storage (Japan, Food Sanitation Law – Article 6).

United States

  • Fresh Meat – Prohibited Under Current FDA Law and Regulations; Improper FDA Acceptance of Recent Industry GRAS Notifications Allows Carbon Monoxide Use in Certain Fresh Meat Products.1
    • 2/21/2002: FDA issued no objections to the GRAS petition submitted by Pactiv for their modified atmosphere packaging system (ActiveTech 2001). GRAS Notice No. 000083 (
    • 7/29/2004: FDA issued no objections to the GRAS petition submitted by Precept for use in their modified atmosphere packaging system. Products packaged in this modified atmosphere packaging system must be coded with a “Use or Freeze by” date not to exceed 28 days after packaging for ground meat and 35 days for whole muscle cuts. GRAS Notice No. 000143 (
  • Fresh Tuna – Permitted only with Labeling to Disclose Preservative Use
    • FDA issued no objections to the GRAS petition submitted by Hawaii International for carbon monoxide use in raw tuna that will be frozen as part of a treatment with tasteless smoke. The FDA states that the use of tasteless smoke constitutes use as a preservative and thus needs to be labeled according to 403(k) and 403(i)(2) of the FFD&C Act. Label examples: Tuna, Tasteless Smoke (a color preservative) OR Tuna, Carbon Monoxide (a color preservative). GRAS No. 000015 (

1In reliance upon FDA’s acceptance of GRAS Notice Nos. 000083 and 000143, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued acceptability determinations enabling additional companies to employ carbon monoxide in fresh meat packaging systems. FSIS Directive 7120.1, “Safe and Suitable Ingredients Used in the Production of Meat and Poultry Products,” Amdt. 5 (Oct. 13, 2005) FDA also continues to consider and allow expanded uses of carbon monoxide in fresh meat packaging based upon its improper responses to the Pactiv and Precept GRAS notifications. (