What Is Meat Science

Meat is a food prepared from skeletal muscle. The quality of the meat is affected by various live animal factors as well as the processing conditions. Meat science is a discipline that has evolved to understand the changes that occur from the live animal until the meat is ready for consumption. It should be distinguished from animal science, where meat yield and growth characteristics are considered to be the main aim rather than meat quality itself. This chapter considers all those factors that affect the main meat quality attributes—its tenderness, juiciness, flavor, color, and storage life—considering mainly meat from cattle, sheep, and pigs, with minor references to deer and poultry. Neither processed meats, in which meat and fat tissue are used as a raw material for derived foods, nor meat hygiene or meat packaging are considered. The freezing of meat will be considered, however, as this process effectively locks up the characteristics of the tissue that exist immediately before freezing. Therefore, the resultant product depends on the time postmortem when the meat was frozen, the rate of freezing, and frozen storage conditions.

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