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Investigation of the species specific flavor of meat

Contact Author G.A.M. van den Ouweland, R. L. Swaine, Jr.
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For ages man has been interested in the nutritional and organoleptic aspects of meat, but the systematic investigation of the biochemical derivation of desirable species specific meat flavor is a rather new endeavor. The first clue to this mystery was probably uncovered by Crocker in 1947. He postulated that the factors responsible for meat flavor are found to a greater extent in the juice than in the fibre. Crocker explained that the majority of the flavor is developed as a result of the thermal degradation of proteins. During the cooking process, amines, acids, sulfur compounds, and phenols are released. Of particular note is his observation that all of the meats (beef, poultry, lamb, and pork) studied exhibited "weak fundamental blood-like flavor when raw." Superimposed on the fundamental flavor was a "flavor distintive of the species food, and environment." Also important was the discovery that the flavors developed upon cooking likewise were similar for various meats; again, modified by the species. Furthermore, with prolonged cooking these characteristics were lost. The flavor differences were thought to be more quantitiative than qualitative. Since that time the chemistry of meat flavor has been the subject of many scientific papers.

Origin of meat flavor

The flavor of meat is attributed to the reactions of a complex mixture of compounds, and the differences in flavor from these comounds are due to the reaction conditions (that is, temperature, time and the amount of water present during the reaction). The range of heating conditions used in normal cooking of meat varies widely.

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