Classes, Structure, colour, Composition and Nutritive value - Meat | 11th Nutrition and Dietetics : Chapter 4 : Flesh Foods, Milk and Milk Products

Chapter: 11th Nutrition and Dietetics : Chapter 4 : Flesh Foods, Milk and Milk Products


Meat refers to muscle of warm blooded four-legged animals.


Flesh foods are consumed since prehistoric times. Meat, poultry and fish are known as flesh foods. Flesh foods like meat, poultry, pork and fish provide the body with essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins for it to remain healthy. These foods contain good quality proteins with high biological value. Egg, milk and milk products are also good sources of animal proteins providing the body with essential amino acids which help to promote growth and maintenance of the human body.


Meat refers to muscle of warm blooded four-legged animals. Meat is defined as skeletal muscle with naturally attached tissue. Red meat consists of mutton, pork, beef and rabbit meat (Fig.4.1). The flesh of birds (poultry), fish, crustaceans, flesh of salmon and lobsters are light coloured and are referred to as white meat.


Classes of meat and related products

1.      Veal: It is the meat from cattle slaughtered 3 to 4 weeks after birth.

2.      Beef: Meat of cattle over 1 year old.

3.      Mutton: Flesh of young ovine animals of both sexes whose age is 12 months or under.

4.      Yearling Mutton: Carcasses of young sheep usually from 12 to about 20 months old are termed yearling mutton.

5.      Mature mutton: Flesh of both the male and female of ovine species that are 20 months in age at the time of slaughter.

6.      Pork: It is the meat of swine. Good quality pork is obtained from animals between the age of 3-12 months before the amount of fat becomes excessive.

7.      Organ meats: Liver, kidney, heart, thymus, pancreas and brain.

8.      Sausages: Made of ground or minced meat and are enclosed in casings


Structure of meat

Animal flesh consists of muscle tissue or fibres, connective tissue and fatty (adipose) tissue. Lean meat is the muscle tissue of animals.

Meat muscle is made up of bundles of muscle fibres held together by creamy white connective tissues. Tendons join muscles (made up of bundles of muscle fibres, surrounded by connective tissue) to the bones of animals.

Fat: Fat is distributed throughout meat in small particles or in large masses. The pattern formed by the uniform distribution of fat in small “lakes” throughout the muscle or lean flesh is called marbling and is considered an important factor in contributing tenderness and flavour to muscle tissue

The colour of meat

The colour of meat is due to the red pigment called myoglobin.

Offals (Organ meats)

Offal also called as organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The name offal means “off fall”, in other words, the bits which fall from an animal when it is butchered. The term offals generally covers organs such as the heart, liver and lungs (collectively known as the pluck) and other organs like the kidneys, brains, head, feet, tongue, intestines and tails. Offal from birds is generally referred to as giblets.

Offals are a highly nutritious food and an excellent source of protein. The liver, kidney and heart are a good source of iron and vitamins A, and D.


Composition and Nutritive value of meat

Meat has an outstanding nutritive value, contributing substantial amount of high quality proteins and essential minerals and vitamins to the diet. Meat contains 15- 20 percent protein of high biological value. The proteins of meat are well utilized by the body, thus ensuring a supply of essential amino acids necessary for growth and maintenance. Meat contains enough iron, phosphorus, zinc and copper to rate as an important source of these minerals.

As farasvitaminsareconcerned, vitamin A, thiamine and riboflavin are present in liver, kidneys, heart and sweetbreads (the pancreas or the thymus). All lean meats contain thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Meat is also relatively high in energy value. Meat fats are rich in saturated fatty acids.


Post mortem changes in meat

The changes taking place in meat after slaughter may be grouped under two heads:

a.       Onset of rigor mortis

b.      Development of tenderness in muscles

a. Onset of rigor mortis:

After slaughtering, the lean tissues undergo a series of complex physical and chemical changes. As a result, muscles lose their soft pliable nature and become rigid, stiff and inflexible. This is termed as “rigor mortis”.

Stiff muscle starts to soften and becomes tender when it is held in a cold room temperature between 0°C to 20°C for 1–4 weeks. This is known as “ripening” or “ageing”. During ageing the humidity of the room is to be controlled.

b. Development of tenderness:

Meat can be made tender by using mechanical methods like pounding, cutting and grinding which break muscle fibre. Addition of salt, vinegar, lime juice and enzymes like papain (raw papaya), bromelin (pineapple) and ficin (figs) also help in tenderizing meat.


Meat Cookery

Intheprocessofcooking, manychemical changes occur affecting the appearance, taste and texture of meat. Cooking meat-

·         Develops or improve flavour, colour, aroma.

·         Makes it delicious and appetizing to eat.

·         Makes it more tender.

·         Makes it easier to digest.

·         Makes it safe to eat - kill any harmful bacteria it may have picked up during handling.


Changes that occur during cooking:

On cooking, the red pigment of meat turns brown due to the denaturation of protein pigment.

Cooking (heat treatment) also brings about inactivation of enzymes and denaturation of proteins, which makes the meat tougher

When meat is cooked volatile compounds from both fat and lean meat are released which contributes to the flavour and taste of cooked meat.

Cooking melts the meat fat which increases palatability of meat when eaten warm.

There is loss of water on cooking meat which does not change the nutritive value but may affect the juiciness and bring about shrinkage in volume and weight.


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11th Nutrition and Dietetics : Chapter 4 : Flesh Foods, Milk and Milk Products : Meat | Classes, Structure, colour, Composition and Nutritive value

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