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Meat Sci. 2014 Nov;98(3):520-32. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2014.05.022. Epub 2014 Jun 4.

A structural approach to understanding the interactions between colour, water-holding capacity and tenderness.

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CSIRO Animal Food And Health Sciences, 39 Kessels Rd, Coopers Plains, Qld 4108, Australia.
CSIRO Animal Food and Health Sciences, 671 Sneydes Rd Werribee, Vic 3030, Australia.
Departamento de Technologia de los Alimentos, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional Del Centro de La Província de Buenos Aires, Tandil, B7000 Bs. As., Argentina.
Department of Veterinary and Agricultural Science, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic 3010, Australia. Electronic address:


The colour, water-holding capacity (WHC) and tenderness of meat are primary determinants of visual and sensory appeal. Although there are many factors which influence these quality traits, the end-results of their influence is often through key changes to the structure of muscle proteins and their spatial arrangement. Water acts as a plasticiser of muscle proteins and water is lost from the myofibrillar lattice structure as a result of protein denaturation and consequent reductions in the muscle fibre volume with increasing cooking temperature. Changes in the myofilament lattice arrangement also impact the light scattering properties and the perceived paleness of the meat. Causes of variation in the quality traits of raw meat do not generally correspond to variations in cooked meat and the differences observed between the raw muscle and cooked or further processed meat are discussed. The review will also identify the gaps in our knowledge and where further investigation would beneficial.


Ageing; Cooking; Meat quality; Muscle protein; Texture; Water loss

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