Meat Composition

Fresh meat is a nutrient-rich medium and is, in fact, one of the best for supporting growth of microorganisms. Skeletal bovine muscle contains nearly 20% of high quality protein, about 2% to 3% lipid, and a small amount of carbohydrate, non-protein nitrogen, and inorganic mate-rial.The balance, about 75%, is water, so the water activity (aw), not surprisingly, is nearly 0.99. The pH of the fresh tissue, before rigor, is 6.8 to 7.0, but decreases to about 5.6 to 5.8 following rigor, due to post-mortem glycolysis by endogenous enzymes present within muscle cells.

These values may vary somewhat, depending on the animal and its status before slaughter, but regardless of the source of meat (e.g., pork usually has a slightly higher pH), these conditions are just about perfect for most bacteria, including spoilage organisms and pathogens. Consequently, raw meat is highly perishable. And although the interior of intact meat tissue is sterile, the exterior surface harbors a wide array of aerobic and facultative bacteria. In its comminuted form, i.e., chopped or ground, meat

Table 6.2. Consumption of fermented meats.




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