Is Pork Considered a Red or White Meat?

The short answer from a registered dietitian
A log of pork on a cutting board with several slices cut from it

Q: I’ve heard varying views – is pork classified as a red meat or white meat?

A: Pork is a red meat. The white meat concept was solely used as part of a marketing campaign that began in the 1980s, but in the realm of health and nutrition, pork is considered a red meat.

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Meats are categorized as either white or red based off the amount of myoglobin found in the animal’s muscle. Myoglobin is a protein found in meat that produces a red color when it’s exposed to oxygen. Poultry and fish, both of which are considered white meat, have significantly less myoglobin than red meat.

Pork is still classified as red meat, even though when you cook it, it sometimes becomes lighter in color. Pork also falls into the livestock category, which includes lamb, veal and beef.

Even the United States Department of Agriculture considers pork a red meat, despite the culinary practice of referring to white meat as a meat that is pale in color both before and after it’s cooked.

Advertising Policy

Like any red meat, pork should be limited due to its link to heart disease, but that doesn’t mean you can never enjoy it again! Anytime you have red meat, it should be the leanest cut you can find. For pork, choose a pork tenderloin, which is the leanest and most tender part. Also be sure to trim off all visible fat.

– Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD.

Advertising Policy