The first line of defense our body uses is visual appearance against dangerous food. Any degradation of color behind the glass of a meat store can detour the customers. Think about when was the last anyone bought grey color meat steak. Studies show that color is the main factor that impacts the buying decisions of buyers. That’s why color analysis plays a vital role in meat processing and production. Meat products undergo various quality processes before being released into the market for selling.
The color of meat; is determined by the interaction with light and texture. The capabilities of human eyes are subjective and can easily determine whether the meat is fresh or not. The color assessment provides an objective measurement to the meat producers about potential contamination. Any packaging problem or storage issues can also cause a color change. Hence, color assessment becomes a vital tool for meat suppliers.
The color of meat changes, due to the involvement of myoglobin and oxidization. Various meats respond differently to these changes. These changes are highly sensitive and require constant monitoring; to ensure that meat colors are maintained.
To ensure the quality of color in meat products; spectrophotometers are used.
Spectrophotometers measure color while controlling the viewing angle and light source. Using spectrophotometers will reduce the errors in perception and enables consistent quantification of meat colors. Continuous monitoring and color assessment will help to avoid loss of quality and provide an alert of possible contamination.
It is mentioned in the standards of USDA(United States Department of Agriculture) that it requires color analysis to ensure the quality and safety of meat products. All meat products whether it is fresh meat, frozen, processed, meat analogs, or any other types of meat require color analysis to maintain the guidelines of USDA. HunterLab is a leading name in spectrophotometric technology. They have received the first approval from USDA. Many corporations and meat producers depend on HunterLab to meet their color analysis requirements.
Oxidation occurs when iron in the meat binds with oxygen in the muscle. As soon as you cut the meat, oxygen reacts with myoglobin and creates bright red color associated with oxymyoglobin. Meat appears tan or brown when only a very small amount of oxygen is present. This means that the contamination process has been started in the meat.
Myoglobin is a protein that is responsible for the majority of the red color in the meat. The meat starts turning purple when comes in contact with oxygen. The meat from older animals will be darker in color because the myoglobin level increases with age. Lamb and Pork are classified as red meat along with beef as they contain more myoglobin. Chicken and fish are considered white meat as they contain less myoglobin. Packaging and storage also play a vital role in the color changing of meat. Meat is tightly wrapped in plastic so that it does not reach with air.
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