Determinants of meat quality: tenderness

C Maltin, Denis Pierre Balcerzak, R Tilley, M Delday

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

306 Citations (Scopus)


Meat quality is a term used to describe a range of attributes of meat. Consumer research suggests that tenderness is a very important element of eating quality and that variations in tenderness affect the decision to repurchase. The present paper highlights recent information on the factors that affect tenderness. While the precise aetiology is not fully understood, a number of factors have been shown to affect tenderness. Of these factors, postmortem factors, particularly temperature, sarcomere length and proteolysis, which affect the conversion of muscle to meat, appear most important. However, it is now becoming clear that variation in other factors such as the muscle fibre type composition and the buffering capacity of the muscle together with the breed and nutritional status of the animals may also contribute to the observed variation in meat tenderness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-347
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2003


  • meat quality
  • tenderness
  • postmortem factors
  • muscle fibre characteristics
  • muscle-fiber characteristics
  • bovine skeletal-muscle
  • beef eating quality
  • longissimus muscle
  • slaughter weight
  • MU-calpain
  • myofiber characteristics
  • organoleptic properties
  • postmortem proteolysis
  • biochemical-properties


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