ABSTRACT: Milk mineral (MM), a by-product of whey processing, is an effective antioxidant in meat systems, but the antioxidant mechanism has not been established. MM has been postulated to chelate iron and prevent iron-catalysis of lipid oxidation. The objective of this research was to examine this putative mechanism. MM was compared to sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP), calcium phosphate monobasic (CPM), and calcium pyrophosphate (CPP) to determine iron-binding capacity, sample solubility, and eluate soluble phosphorus after treating samples with a ferrous chloride standard. Scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray analysis was used to localize minerals on iron-treated MM particle surfaces. Histochemical staining for calcium was performed on raw and cooked ground beef samples with added MM. MM bound more iron per gram (P < 0.05) than the other compounds, and was much less soluble (P < 0.05) than either STPP or CPM. Mineral localization showed an even distribution of calcium, phosphorus, oxygen, and iron across the MM particle surface, directly demonstrating iron binding to MM particles. Unlike other common chelating agents, such as STPP and citrate, histochemical staining demonstrated that MM remained insoluble in ground beef, even after cooking. The ability of MM to bind iron and remain insoluble may enhance its antioxidant effect by removing iron ions from solution. However, MM particles must be small and well distributed in order to adequately bind iron throughout the food system.