Understanding dark meat colour
Meat colour is assessed against AUSMEAT meat colour standards (1a to 7). Most markets prefer the bright, pink to cherry red colour of chip 1B or 1C due to consumer preferences and their aversion to dark meat colour. Acceptable meat colour for MSA is 1B to 3, inclusive.
Dark meat colour, over chip 3, is commonly referred to as ‘dark cutting’. This tends to be associated with low blood glycogen levels in the live animal prior to slaughter. Meat colour differences are influenced by the concentration of myoglobin (pigment) in the muscle and factors such as: breed, gender, age, muscle type and physical activity.
- Dark cutting beef - what is it? explains how muscle glycogen and pH influences meat colour
- The importance of pH, and pratices that will minimise the incidence of high-pH dark beef are outlined in this Meat Technology Update