Saturday, May 25, 2024
General Agriculture

The Different Properties of Fresh Meat

Fresh meat is converted muscle that has not undergone processing such as cooking, freezing, smoking etc. The properties that fresh meat possesses will affect its usefulness for processing into products; determine the kind of products that can be obtained from it, sale, and acceptability to consumers. The most important properties are those of water holding capacity, colour, tenderness and flavour.

Water holding capacity (WHC) and some of its effects on the quality of meat were mentioned in the previous section. It can be defined as the ability of meat to retain water during the application of external forces such as cutting, heating, grinding or freezing.

As mentioned earlier, muscle proteins are capable of holding many water molecules to their surface because protein molecules are charged or polar due to the ionized amino and carboxylic functional groups, which bind to polar hydrogen and oxygen groups. Water bound to the muscle protein affects the eating and processing quality of meat because it contributes to juiciness and firmness for cutting.

A low WHC could lead to significant shrinkage (reduction in size) in meat during storage and processing, even cooking. Therefore, for good processing and eating qualities, the WHC needs to be high.

However, in some products such as uncooked and/or dried products, which need to lose water during processing, WHC does not need to be high. It could also affect the colour of meat as found in pale, soft, exudative meat and dark, firm and dry meat due to absorption (in DFD) and reflection of light (in PSE).

Read Also: The Production and Marketing of Bush-Meat

Water-holding capacity varies greatly among the muscles of the body and among animal species. Beef has the greatest capacity to retain water, followed by pork, and poultry the least.

The typical red colour of meat is determined by myoglobin (oxygen stored in muscles), which is a red pigment that is similar to haemoglobin in the blood. Animals that have been well bled have most of their colour due to myoglobin other than haemoglobin.

The difference in myoglobin concentration is why some muscles are darker than others in the same carcass. For example, breast muscles are lighter in colour than thigh muscles in chickens. In addition, myoglobin concentration in meat differs among animal species.

For example, beef is darker than pork, mutton, poultry and fish. Myoglobin also increases in the muscle with maturity; therefore, meat from older animals is darker than that from younger ones.

The interaction of myoglobin with oxygen determines the colour of fresh meat. The most acceptable meat colour to consumers is a bright red colour of meat, which results from the abundant supply of oxygen.

If the oxygen supply is short, the meat colour will be an unacceptable brown colour. In intact muscles (muscles that have not been cut) the colour is purple because myoglobin is bound to water.

Tenderness is important when entire (large) pieces of meat are cooked, fried or barbecued. Tenderness is the same as toughness but becomes less significant when meat is cut into pieces (comminuted).

Read Also: Guide to Slaughter and Conversion of Muscle to Meat

Tough meat could also result from unresolved rigour Mortis and DFD. The toughness also increases with maturity and older animals have tougher meat than younger animals.

The taste or flavour of the meat is different for different animal species. For example, pig (pork), sheep meat (mutton/lamb), or some fish species have stronger flavours than beef.

Some of the flavours are due to imprints from inter- and intramuscular fat on the muscle. The feed may also influence the taste of meat such as the ‘fishy’ flavour that is imparted on the meat of animals fed fishmeal till slaughter.

Moreover, sex may affect the taste of meat such as the strong urine smell present in meat from old male pigs (boars – boar odour). The typical taste of meat is due mostly to lactic acid, and organic acids such as amino acids, di- and tri-peptides from meat proteins.

Regardless of how different the meat obtained is different from the properties of normal fresh meat, the most important thing is to remove such limitations as much as possible in order to present a more desirable product appropriate to achieve processing objectives.

In conclusion, meat quality depends on many important factors of which post-slaughter factors are the most significant. The application of measures that alleviate undesirable effects will go a long way in the provision of good quality meat and ensuring that premium value is obtained for meat products.

Read Also: Animal Growth and Development

The Different Properties of Fresh Meat

The Different Properties of Fresh Meat

Now let’s explore the distinct properties of fresh meat, unraveling the intricacies that make it a crucial aspect of our culinary and nutritional landscape.

1. Color: One of the most noticeable features, the color of fresh meat can be indicative of its age and species. Red meats, such as beef, derive their hue from the presence of myoglobin, a protein responsible for oxygen storage. Poultry and pork, on the other hand, tend to be lighter in color. Vibrant, consistent coloring often suggests freshness.

2. Texture and Marbling: The texture of fresh meat is a sensory journey. Tender cuts with a fine texture often result from well-exercised muscles, while marbling, the distribution of intramuscular fat, contributes to both tenderness and flavor. The right balance can elevate the eating experience, as seen in premium cuts like ribeye or Wagyu beef.

3. Odor: The scent of fresh meat should be clean and slightly sweet. Any off-putting odors could signal spoilage. Trusting your sense of smell is crucial when assessing meat quality.

4. Moisture Content: Moisture is a key player in meat quality. Optimal levels ensure succulence and tenderness. Overly dry meat may result from improper storage or cooking, diminishing the overall dining experience.

5. pH Levels: pH levels influence the tenderness and shelf life of meat. Generally, a slightly acidic pH is desirable, as it promotes both tenderness and natural preservation. However, extreme pH values can indicate spoilage or undesirable changes in flavor.

6. Fat Content: The amount and distribution of fat impact the flavor and juiciness of meat. While some cuts are prized for their leanness, others, like certain cuts of beef, benefit from a higher fat content. Balancing fat content enhances both taste and mouthfeel.

7. Microbial Safety: Ensuring meat is free from harmful microorganisms is paramount. Proper storage and handling, along with adherence to hygiene practices, are crucial for maintaining microbial safety.

8. Nutritional Composition: Meat is a rich source of essential nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. Understanding the nutritional profile of different meats allows consumers to make informed choices based on their dietary needs.

9. Age of the Animal: The age at which an animal is processed significantly influences meat quality. Younger animals typically yield more tender meat, while older animals may have richer flavors but require different cooking methods to achieve tenderness.

Understanding these fresh meat properties empowers consumers to make informed choices when selecting and preparing fresh meat. It’s not just about a meal; it’s about appreciating the nuances that contribute to a delightful and nourishing dining experience.

Read Also: What You Need to Know About Osteospermum


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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