Meat Science and Processing

Meat science and the research and studies conducted both independently and in conjunction with many industry stakeholders over the last 40 years have provided a greater understanding of the relationship between animal-handling techniques prior to harvesting (slaughter) and the quality of the meat produced. As well, improved practices during and after the harvesting of animals, especially in large processing plants, have contributed to progress in the meat industry. These include improvements to refrigeration and storage, aging of meats (mainly beef and lamb carcasses), and transportation. Additionally, the slaughter process itself has changed over time, and now beef and veal animals are usually stunned with a captive bolt gun (with a retractable bolt penetrating the brain), rendering the animals unconscious prior to bleeding.

All of these developments have improved the end product, which ultimately ends up at local meat stores and restaurants. However, even today a small amount of product can still be found to be substandard (mainly due to faster processing methods in larger plants). In order to understand some of the factors that can alter the quality of the end product, especially tenderness, colour, flavour, and nutritional value of meat (protein), we must turn to science.