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Meat Sci. 1996;43S1:111-23.

Oxidative quality and shelf life of meats.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI 48824, USA.


Lipid oxidation is one of the primary mechanisms of quality deterioration in foods and especially in meat products. The changes in quality are manifested by adverse changes in flavor, color, texture and nutritive value, and the possible production of toxic compounds. Lipid oxidation in muscle systems is initiated at the membrane level in the intracellular phospholipid fractions. How this occurs has still not been resolved, although it is generally believed that the presence of transition metals, notably iron, is pivotal in facilitating the generation of species capable of abstracting a proton from an unsaturated fatty acid. This paper provides an overview of how lipid oxidation affects the quality and shelf life of meat and meat products, and how shelf life can be extended through dietary vitamin E supplementation above requirement levels. The formation of cholesterol oxidation products and the possible role of lipids and their oxidation products in the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines are also discussed.


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