Color Stability During Display

The important factors affecting the color stability of fresh meat are temperature, the packaging environment, and ultimate pH, the oxygen consumption and the reducing capacity of the meat. Thus, different muscles exhibit different rates of metmyoglobin formation, a change of temperature from 3 to 5°C in display will double the discoloration rate, and exposure to light also results in a decrease in display life (111-113). Exposure to light also accelerates rancidity development.

Aged meat can have a brighter color after blooming than unaged meat, not only because of increased light scatter and deeper penetration of the light, but also because of decreased catalytic oxidative capacity. However, aged meat has a poorer color stability (111-113).

Under certain conditions, microbial spoilage can affect meat color. Meat can turn green when sulfmyoglobin is formed. This occurs when certain spoilage organisms cause sulfur components to be released. Sulfmyoglobin formation is generally restricted to high-pH meat in vacuum packaging, where the environment is more conducive to sulfur-reducing bacteria (91). The addition of vitamin E to the diet improves the color stability at retail by reducing the metmyoglobin formation (117). This is more important in animals fed in a feedlot than for pasture-fed animals, which, in general, obtain sufficient from their daily food intake.

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