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Meat Science 89 (2011) 15

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Meat Science
j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s e v i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / m e a t s c i

How is the instrumental color of meat measured?

W.N. Tapp III, J.W.S. Yancey , J.K. Apple
Department of Animal Science, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Fayetteville, 72701, USA

article info abstract

Article history: Peer-reviewed journal articles (n = 1068) were used to gather instrumental color measurement information in meat science
Received 16 April 2010 research. The majority of articles, published in 10 peer-reviewed journals, originated from European countries (44.8%) and
Received in revised form 19 November 2010 North America (38.5%). The predominant specie was pork (44.2%), and most researchers used Minolta (60.0%) over Hunter
Accepted 22 November 2010
(31.6%) colorimeters. Much of the research was done using illuminant D 65 (32.3%); nevertheless, almost half (48.9%) of the
Keywords: articles did not report the illuminant. Moreover, a majority of the articles did not report aperture size (73.6%) or the number of
Color measurement readings per sample (52.4%). Many factors influence meat color, and a considerable proportion of the peer-reviewed,
Meat color published research articles failed to include information necessary to replicate and/or interpret instrumental color results;
Colorimeter therefore, a standardized set of minimum reportable parameters for meat color evaluation should be identified.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Olsen, and Berg (2004) reported that L*, a*, and b* values of the longissimus
muscle increased up to 12 min after beef carcass ribbing, but no further
Meat purchasing decisions are influenced more by product appearance increases were observed thereafter. Conversely, Lee, Apple, Yancey, Sawyer,
than any other quality factor; color represents perceived freshness and is of and Johnson (2008a, 2008b) noted that as much as 90% of the increase in
vital importance to the meat industry and meat science research (Mancini & both instrumental color values and oxymyoglobin percentages was achieved
Hunt, 2005). In turn, it has been beneficial for companies marketing meat within the first 60 min after cutting and exposing beef longissimus and gluteus
products to objectively measure color. In addition, research has revealed medius steaks to air. Although bloom time did not alter L* values of pork, the
relationships among instrumental measures of fresh meat color and cooked length of bloom time impacted both a* and b* values of pork longissimus
meat palatability (Wulf, O'Conner, Tatum, & Smith, 1997; Wulf & Page, (Brewer et al., 2001).
2000; Liu et al., 2003). Each research institution has its own protocols/procedures for collecting
It has been established that several factors affect the instrumental color instrumental color; yet, Brewer et al. (2001) indicated that pre-selection of
readings of meat samples. By definition, the illuminant (light source) used has relevant muscles and fabrication style, an appropriate bloom time, color
an effect on the resulting color measurement values of a sample, and the coordinates to address the research objectives, and instrument and appropriate
AMSA (1991) guidelines for meat color evaluation suggest that illuminant A settings, was necessary to optimize the relationship of instrumental readings
should be used when measuring meat samples as the higher proportion of with visual color. Moreover, how authors describe their instrumental color
long, red wavelengths associated with that illuminant have resulted in higher data collection protocols/procedures impacts both the potential replication of
correlations with visual color scores. Illuminants C and D65, which more their study and interpretation of their results. Therefore, the purpose of this
closely resemble daylight, are commonly used in meat science articles as study was to survey the factors reported to affect instrumental color data
well, especially with the Minolta Instrument. Research has also noted collection, and discern if there is a need to establish standards for reporting
differences in color values that come from varying instruments (Brewer, Zhu, and describing instrumental color data parameters and protocols.
Bidner, Meisinger, & McKeith, 2001; Meisinger, Scheller, & Goodwin,
1997), and Yancey and Kropf (2008) reported that reflectance values of meat
products, as well as L*, a*, and b* values, decreased as aperture size (viewing
port) of the colorimeter decreased. 2. Materials and methods

The time post-cutting that a measurement is taken (bloom time) may also Information was compiled by examining journal articles that measured
affect instrumental color values. Rentfrow, Linville, Stahl, meat color (n = 1068) using ten scientific journals from ten years (1998 to
2007) of publication. Data were collected from all articles within each
publication, not limited to merely the Meat Science or Animal Products
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 479 575 4115; fax: +1 479 575 7294. E-mail sections. Factors, including country of author's institutional origin, journal,
address: jws09@uark.edu (J.W.S. Yancey). species, instrument, illuminant

0309-1740/$ see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
2 W.N. Tapp III et al. / Meat Science 89 (2011) 15

(light source), aperture (port size), observation angle, bloom time, number of color of beef, lamb, and poultry, respectively (Table 1). Other species
readings, and methods of determining lightness, redness, or yellowness, were represented in meat color research included antelope, camel, caribou, fish,
recorded. Country of author's origin was based on the country listed on the goat, horse, kongoni, oryn, ostrich, rabbit, reindeer, venison, and zebra.
paper by the majority of authors and was grouped for analysis into one of six
groups: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania (including Australia
and New Zealand), and South America. To analyze species, the articles were 3.2. Variations in instrument used
combined into the following groups: beef (including veal, young beef, mature
beef, and buffalo), fish, goat, horse, lamb (including young lamb and mutton), The majority of studies (644 articles) used a Minolta-branded instrument
ostrich, pork, poultry (including chicken, turkey, duck, and goose), rabbit, (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan; Table 2). The Hunter Associates Laboratory
venison, and other (included species that only appeared in one article). When (Reston, VA, USA) apparatus was reported in 339 articles, but 62 articles
considering interaction data, the species were further consolidated into beef, reported measuring color with instruments other than Minolta or Hunter
pork, lamb, poultry, and other. The frequency analysis procedure of SAS (including Gardner, Colorgard system, Colormet, Color Tech, Denshoku,
(SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA) was used to analyze the data, and joint Kalnew, Macbeth, Monolight, Perkin Elmer, Spectro, and Uvikon). Only 28
values were found concerning country by illuminant, aperture size by articles did not report the brand of instrument used to measure meat color.
instrument, and species by illuminant interactions. Research has shown that a distinction in color measurement (whether it be
instrument or methodology) can impact instrumental meat color values.
Brewer et al. (2001) demonstrated relevant differences in L*, a*, and b*
values of fresh pork between Minolta and Hunter colorimeters.
3. Results and discussion

3.1. Variations in journal, country, and species 3.3. Variations in the use of illuminant (light source)

Of the articles measuring meat color published in these journals over the Almost half (527 articles) of the articles reporting instrumental color
past ten years, it was not surprising that most (594 articles) originated from results failed to report what illuminant was used (Table 2). When illuminant
Meat Science, whereas 109 were taken from Journal of Animal Science, 87 was specified, D65 was the preferred illuminant (348 articles), whereas
from the Journal of Food Science, and 84 were from Journal of Muscle Foods illuminants A, C, and other (such as DZA or FCW) were also noted in 93, 93,
(Table 1). Results indicated that the greatest number of articles (477) came and 16 articles, respectively. Considerable research has been done to find the
from European countries, followed by 410 from North America, 82 from correct illuminant to use when measuring meat color. The guidelines for
Asia, 66 from Oceania, 24 from Africa, and 7 from South America (Table 1). measuring meat color (AMSA, 1991) state that illuminant A was superior to
Pork (485 articles) was the predominant species upon which instrumental others due to its greater proportion of wavelengths in the long, red portion of
meat color was reported, whereas 386, 80, and 71 articles reported measuring the visual spectrum and that instrumental measurements made using

Table 1 Table 2
Percentage of articles from each journal, country of research, and species studied for measuring Instrument settings reported in journal articles measuring instrumental meat color
meat color among articles published over a ten-year period. published over a ten-year period.

Percentage of articles Percentage of articles

Journal Machine
Animal and Animal Sciencea 4.5 Hunter 31.6
Canadian Journal of Animal Science 3.8 Minolta 60.0
Food Chemistry 1.5 Other 5.8
Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 1.5 Not Reported 2.6
Journal of Animal Science 10.2 Illuminant
Journal of Food Science 8.1 A 8.6
Journal of Muscle Foods 7.9 C 8.6
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 3.0 D65 32.3
Livestock Science 3.8 Other 1.5
Meat Science 55.6 Not Reported 48.9
Country of research Aperture Size
Africa 2.3 6.4 mm or less 1.5
Asia 7.7 8 mm 7.1
Europe 44.8 10 mm 1.7
North America 38.5 11 mm 1.0
Oceania 6.2 12 mm 0.8
South America 0.7 16 mm 0.3
Species 20 mm 0.4
Beef, veal and buffalo 35.2 22 mm 0.7
Fish 1.3 25 mm 6.6
Goat 1.4 32 mm 3.7
Horse 0.2 44 mm 0.6
Lamb and mutton 7.3 50 mm or larger 3.1
Ostrich 1.1 Not Reported 73.6
Pork 44.2 Observation Angle
Poultry 6.5 0 3.8
Rabbit 1.6 2 5.3
Venison 0.6 8 0.7
Otherb 0.6 10 24.2
a 20 0.1
Animal Science was changed to Animal in 2007.
65 0.1
Other species studied included antelope, camel, caribou, kongoni, oryn, reindeer, and Not Reported 65.9
zebra; each represented by one article.
W.N. Tapp III et al. / Meat Science 89 (2011) 15 3

illuminant A were more highly correlated with visual color. Furthermore, Table 3
Brewer et al. (2001) compared values using a Minolta (8-mm aperture, 2 Bloom times and number of readings per sample reported in articles measuring instrumental
meat color published over a ten-year period.
observer) to a Hunter MiniScan (25-mm aperture, 10 observer) and found
that L*, a*, and b* values differed due to illuminant both between and within Percentage of articles
instruments. Garcia-Esteban, Ansorena, Gimeno, and Astiasarn (2003) Bloom time
reported that, when using a 2 or 10 observation angle, measurements using 0 3.5
illuminant A had the lowest coefficients of variation for color of dry-cured 5 0.3
10 2.4
hams. Oftentimes, the illuminant used is limited by the instrument used, so
15 2.4
choosing an illuminant is not an option for every research trial. Thus, at the 20 2.4
least, researchers should report the illuminant they used for measuring the 30 9.3
color of fresh and/or heat-processed meats. 40 0.2
45 1.4
60 8.6
80 0.1
3.4. Variations in the use of aperture size 90 1.0
120 1.4
The majority (787 articles) of the meat-color articles failed to report the 180 1.0
aperture size of the color-measuring instrument (Table 2). When aperture size Greater than 180 1.3
Not Reported 36.8
was reported, 8-mm (76 articles) and 25-mm (70 articles) aperture sizes were
Not Applicablea 27.8
most popular. Yet, results of this survey indicated that more than 10 different Number of readings per sample
aperture sizes were used to measure meat color over the ten-year period. 1 0.3
Honikel (1998) recommended that the aperture (viewing port) size be as large 2 6.6
as the instrument will allow. Yancey and Kropf (2008) demonstrated that L*, 3 21.9
a*, and b* values, as well as saturation index values, decreased with 4 5.9
5 5.2
decreasing aperture size, when using illuminants A, C, and D 65. These 6 to 10 5.3
authors also noted that hue angles were inversely related to aperture size for 11 to 15 0.7
More than 15 1.8
all three illuminants, and, with illuminants C and D65, the smallest aperture
Not Reported 52.4
size resulted in negative a* values, which skewed the hue angle calculations.
Certain studies, such as those on processed meats, cooked meats, some ground meats, or
when color was measured over an extended period of time, do not require a reported bloom

3.5. Variations in the use of an observation angle

Lee et al. (2008a, 2008b) observed that over 90% of the change in L*, a*, b*,
Again, a large proportion of articles (705) failed to report the observation and chroma (C*) values, as well as hue angles and calculated oxymyoglobin
angle (Table 2). Among those reported, 10 was by far the most popular percentages, of beef longissimus and gluteus medius steaks occurred during
observation angle, with 259 articles reporting the use of this angle of measure. the first hour after exposure to air.
Observation angles of 2 and 0 were the next most popular, with 57 and 40
articles, respectively. Observation angle accounts for the visual field of the 3.7. Variation in the number of readings per sample
average human eye when detecting color (Hunter Laboratory Associates,
2008a, 2008b). Very little research has been conducted on differences in meat The majority of articles surveyed (560 articles) failed to report the number
color measure-ment due to the standard observation angle, but HunterLab of readings that were taken on each sample to find the color measurement
suggested using the 10 observer, which was developed in 1964 over the 2 (Table 3). In fact, a great deal of variation in the number of color readings
observer, developed in 1931 (Hunter Laboratory Associates, 2008b). was noted among the studies, with from one to as many as 30 readings taken
per sample. The most popular choice in number of readings taken was three
(234 articles), which is consistent with the recommendation of Honikel
3.6. Variations in the use of bloom time (1998), who advocated taking color readings in at least triplicate.

Bloom time was not reported in 691 articles when measuring instrumental
meat color, but it was ascertained that in some studies, such as those on 3.8. Variations between color coordinates
processed meats, cooked meats, some ground meats, or when color was
measured on product in display over an extended period of time, bloom time Another objective of this survey was to determine the tristimulus methods
was not applicable. Therefore, those articles accounted for 27.8% of the color that researchers used to measure darkness-to-lightness, as well as well as the
articles examined, whereas articles that did not report bloom time on freshly- redgreen and yellowblue axes. In 1976, the Commission de Internationale
cut muscle accounted for 36.8% of articles (Table 3). Most reporting E Clairage (CIE 1976) revised the original L, a, b tristimulus method
researchers used a 30- (100 articles) or 60-min (92 articles) bloom time, but (commonly referred to as the Hunter L a b scale) in an effort to expand from
the various bloom times reported ranged from 0 to over 180 min. Bloom time the two-dimensional to a three-dimensional space (referred to as CIE L* a*
has the potential to have a large impact on fresh instrumental color readings b*). Moreover, the two color coordinate methods are calculated differently,
because the oxygenation of the myoglobin pigment in the muscle is with Hunter Lab values calculated using the square roots of XYZ values
responsible for the red color formation and does not occur instantaneously. and CIE L*a*b* values derived from the cube roots of XYZ values
Honikel (1998) recommended that bloom last for at least one hour, preferably (Hunter Laboratory Associates, 2008a). Most of the research articles reported
two hours, at a maximum temperature of 3 C; however, Rentfrow et al. using L*, a*, and b* values (902, 880, and 858 articles, respectively) to
(2004) indicated that instrumental color measures of beef longissimus measure lightness, redness, and yellowness, respectively. Another 125, 133,
stabilized within 12 min of carcass ribbing, and Wulf and Wise (1999) noted and 120 articles reported using L, a, and b values to measure darkness-to-
that L* values of beef longissimus stabilized after an approximate 30-minute lightness, redgreen axis, and yellowblue axis, respectively, whereas
bloom time and a* and b* values after 78 min of bloom. More recently, between 3.8 and 8.4% of the articles failed to report the tristimulus method
used to measure meat color. Interestingly, a few articles reported
4 W.N. Tapp III et al. / Meat Science 89 (2011) 15

using the XYZ or Luv coordinates, but typically these articles also
reported using either the L*, a*, b* or L, a, b coordinates as well.
Color may also be evaluated using calculations from the a* (or a) and b*
(or b) in the form of hue angle (tan1(b*/a*)) and chroma

( a 2 + b 2). Hue angle is the development of color from red to yellow and
larger angles indicate a less red product. Chroma is used to indicate the
saturation of color, sometimes termed vividness. In some cases, the
reflectance of light at specific wavelengths is measured, and the ratio of
reflectance at 630 nm to that at 580 nm is used to determine redness. Hue
angle and chroma were reported in 24.8 and 25.0% of papers, respectively.
Reflectance values were reported less frequently (13.2 %). This is not entirely
surprising because hue angle and chroma can be calculated from a* and b*,
which is available from most colorimeters, but only spectrophotometers
report reflectance at specific wavelengths, usually at 10-nm increments. Some
researchers are now reporting reflectance at each wavelength and analyzing
meat color in the entire spectrum, concentrating on the long, red wavelengths
(Yancey & Kropf, 2008).

Fig. 2. Interaction of illuminants (light sources) with country of origin to measure meat color
3.9. Interactive variations between country and instrument
reported in articles published over a ten-year period.

Minolta branded instruments were used in 59.7% of all articles surveyed,

followed by authors from North America (27.1%), Asia (9.0%), and Africa
and the Minolta was the most popular brand of instrument for measuring meat
(3.5%). Several factors can affect the instrument an author chooses, including
color within each of country designation (Fig. 1), with the exception of North
the cost of the instrument, its availability in the geographical area, and the
America. In articles from Oceania, Europe, and Asia, Minolta branded
capabilities of the instrument.
instruments were used for measuring meat color in 80.3, 72.1, and 69.8% of
articles, respectively. European authors were much less likely to use Hunter
(18.2%) or other (6.1%) brands of color measuring instruments. In articles 3.10. Interactive variations between country and illuminant
originating from North American countries, Hunter-branded instruments were
most popular (54.9% of the articles), followed by Minolta (41.2%) and other Illuminant D65 was the most popular illuminant used when the entire data
(2.3%) instruments. Asian authors were most likely to use the Minolta and set was examined, and this held true within each continent, with the exception
were less likely to use a Hunter (9.3%) than an other (17.4%) instrument. of Africa (Fig. 2). Illuminant C was most popular in North America, from
Authors from Oceania clearly favored the Minolta over Hunter (15.2%) or where 55% of the articles utilizing illuminant C originated. It was clear that
other (4.6%) instruments. African authors used Minolta (50.0%) instruments illuminant A was used almost exclusively in North America (in 93% of the
only slightly more often than other (42.3%) and only reported using Hunter articles). Research articles that reported illuminants other than D 65, C, or A
instruments in one article. Of the seven South American articles, four used mostly originated from North America (72%) or Europe (22%). It is highly
Minolta (57.1%), two used Hunter (28.6%), and one reported using an other probable that the reason for the predominant use of either illuminant C or D 65
(14.3%) instrument. European authors were most likely to not report the type is that these are the only illuminant options for Minolta colorimeters, which
of instrument used (62.1% of articles not reporting instrument), were used in the greatest numbers of articles. Articles originating from Africa
were the most likely not to

Fig. 1. Interaction of country of author origin with brand of instrument for measuring Fig. 3. Interaction of aperture size with instrument used to measure meat color reported
meat color reported in articles published over a ten-year period. in articles published over a ten-year period.
W.N. Tapp III et al. / Meat Science 89 (2011) 15 5

spectrum when compared to C and D65; therefore, it is pertinent that

researchers report which illuminant they used. Abeni and Bergoglio (2000)
noted that different illuminants resulted in vastly different instrumental color
values for fresh poultry, and they also concluded that specifying the
illuminant was essential for the interpretation of poultry instrumental color

4. Conclusions

Considering the multitude and diversity of institutions and researchers

performing meat color evaluations, it would seem only logical to presume that
there would be set rules to follow on how the methodology is described in
research articles. Findings from this review, however, indicated that a large
percentage of the articles failed to include pertinent information (i.e.,
illuminant, aperture size, observation angle, bloom time before data
collection, and number of readings per sample) necessary to replicate and
accurately interpret instrumental color results. In addition, because of the
Fig. 4. Interaction of illuminant used with species studied for measuring meat color reported in
articles published over a ten-year period. Other species included antelope, camel, caribou, fish, wide range of methods/protocols/procedures used to measure instrumental
goat, horse, kongoni, oryn, ostrich, rabbit, reindeer, venison, and zebra. color of meats, the methodology and protocol description for instrumental
color data collection merits a standardized data reporting system. In the
future, authors of manuscripts utilizing instrumental meat color evaluation
have reported illuminant (80.7%), followed by those from Asia (69.8%), should include, and reviewers should require, as a minimum the following
Europe (56.3%), Oceania (36.4%), North America (34.4%), and South information: instrument, illuminant, aperture size, observation angle, number
America (0.2%), where only one of seven articles failed to report the of readings taken per sample, and, when measuring freshly-cut samples,
illuminant. bloom time.

3.11. Interactive variations between instrument type and aperture

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