Numerous factors affect the quality of muscle in its use for food. The genetic background of the animals, the age at harvest, the feeding program used, and the way the animals are handled before harvest all have important effects on meat quality. Muscle foods are also influenced by the metabolism and changes that occur during the postmortem time period. This article summarizes the biochemical and physical alterations that occur in muscle after death, and discusses some conditions that modify these alterations.

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