MICROBIAL ECOLOGY AND SAFETY OF FRESH ON-FARM ORGANICALLY GROWN PRODUCE
Title: Measuring Meat Texture
Submitted to: CRC Press
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 22, 2008
Publication Date: November 10, 2008
Citation: Solomon, M.B., Eastridge, J.S., Paroczay, E.W., Bowker, B.C., Liu, M. 2008. Measuring Meat Texture. In: Nollet, L., Toldra, F., editors. Handbook of Muscle Foods Analysis. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 479-502.
Interpretive Summary: For consumers, tenderness is a critical sensory attribute of meat palatability. The perception of tenderness is influenced by many tactile senses including texture. Meat texture is a complex phenomenon that encompasses characteristics such as hardness, springiness, chewiness, cohesiveness, and even juiciness. Variations in meat texture originate from inherent differences within the structure of raw meat/muscle tissue relating to contractile protein structures, connective tissue framework, lipid and carbohydrate components as well as external factors like cooking and sample handling. The term “tenderness,” which refers to hardness, is often used interchangeably with texture. It has been argued that tenderness may not adequately describe meat texture because it does not specify how much of the toughness sensation is due to the force to bite through meat compared to the cohesive forces that resist compression or deformation prior to rupture. Although texture is a trait that, by definition, can best be measured by sensory perception, researchers have continually sought to assess texture instrumentally. Instruments used for texture analysis generally measure muscle tissue’s resistance to shearing, compression, and/or penetration.
Due to the complex and highly structured nature of muscle tissue, meat is an inherently tough and widely variable food product. In order to better predict and control meat tenderness issues, accurate measures of meat texture are needed. Unfortunately, the multifaceted characteristic of meat texture has made it difficult to assess instrumentally. Some have argued that the absence of consistent terminology and lack of standardization of the test apparatus has hindered the interpretation of data and understanding of meat texture. Many technologies that measure the physical properties of meat as a measure of meat texture have been developed with varying degrees of success. Although much has been learned over the years, instrumentally measuring and understanding characteristics of meat that correlate highly with the complex, sensory phenomenon of meat texture has proven difficult. The difficulty in predicting meat tenderness using instrumental measures stems from the lack of understanding of the consumers’ perception of texture and tenderness. Progress in measuring biomechanical characteristics of raw meat and establishing correlation to overall sensory scores continues to improve, and there are some promising technologies that may allow non-invasive or non-destructive testing to achieve this goal.