Meat Quality

Newsletter No. 22 – January 2005 Item 4

The following is the opening statement of a document entitled "Factors Affecting Poultry Meat Quality" produced by Julie K. Northcutt a scientist from The University of Georgia:

Quote:  Before poultry meat quality is addressed, the term quality should be clearly defined as it relates to poultry. This is a difficult task, because quality is "in the eye of the beholder." For example, someone trying to sell a product might view its quality in terms of how well it sells and how much people are willing to pay for it.  However, this definition is incomplete, because it does not consider the product's character. Since people only buy what they like, the consumer's perspective of quality is more appropriate. When consumers buy a poultry product, cook and serve it to their families, they expect it to look, taste, and feel good in their mouth. If these characteristics do not meet the consumer's expectation, the product is considered to be of lower quality.

Whether or not a poultry product meets the consumer's expectations depends upon the conditions surrounding various stages in the bird's development from the fertilized egg through production and processing to consumption. end Quote

Figure 1  defines different aspects of food products that determine quality.

Figure 1 - Defining Aspects Influencing Meat Quality

The author goes on to discuss only Appearance, Texture and Flavour in this particular paper.   She interprets Appearance as Colour and Texture as Tenderness.   Figure 2 is a diagrammatic interpretation of Flavour perceptions.

Figure 2 - Flavour Perceptions (Adapted from Lawless 1991)


All readers I am sure will agree that the aspects discussed are identical for any meat product, it is only the characteristics unique to each specie that will differ.  The WOA Meat committee has already produced a document "Factors Influencing Meat Quality".  One of the many research projects that will be undertaken as part of the research and development projects will be more clearly defining the areas in these diagrams as they apply to ostrich.

For example, under appearance colour is known to be most important.  With Ostrich we currently suffer from meat that is very dark, from meat that can be white (white muscle disease) and from muscles that are often multi-coloured.  All of these things are very controllable with the right production methods, yet over the years I have heard producers, processors and marketers state that these things are normal.  I have listened to a  perceived expert at an Ostrich conference tell the audience that it is normal for the meat to darken very quickly on oxidation.   These negative aspects are controllable in all specie as they are symptoms of a poor diet, correct the diet and the symptoms disappear..

Common sense suggests that a piece of meat that is a good even colour, not too dark and brightens on oxidation is going to be far more attractive to the customer than meat that is either dark in colour, blackens on oxidation and/or may have unevenness of colour within the muscle.   As this paper states, production methods are an important part of the quality control/marketing program of all our products.

Attention to the detail of all these aspects are one step required to enhance the REVENUE and therefore profitability

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