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Red meat

Red meats
Red meat products come primarily from cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and, to a lesser extent, horses and other animals. Red meats are named according to their source: Beef is typically from cattle over a year of age; veal is from calves 5 months of age or younger (veal carcasses are distinguished from beef by their grayish-pink color of the lean); pork is from swine; mutton is from mature sheep; lamb is from young sheep; chevon is from goats, but it is commonly called goat meat.

Dressing percentage

Animals are transported to packing plants, where they are processed. During the initial processing stage, the animals are made unconscious by using carbon dioxide gas or by stunning (electrical or mechanical). The jugular vein and/or carotid artery is then cut to drain the blood from the animal. After bleeding, the hides are removed from cattle and sheep. Hogs are scalded to remove the hair, but skin is usually left on the carcass. A few packers skin hogs, as it is more energy efficient than leaving the skin on.

After the hide or hair is removed, the internal organs are separated from the carcass. Those parts removed from the carcass are some times referred to the drop, viscera, offal, or by product. Typically these are the head, hide, hair, shanks (lower parts of legs and feet), and internal organs. Dressing percentage (sometimes referred to as yield) is the relation of hot or cold carcass weight to live weight. It is calculated as follows: Dressing percentage= hot or cold carcass weight 100 Live weight

Dressing percentage

Species/class Cattle Calves Hogs Sheep/lamb

Meat products Beef Veal Pork Mutton/lamb

Average dressing % 60 60 72 50

Wholesale cuts of beef, veal, pork, and lamb

Beef Round Sirloin Short loin Rib Chuck Foreshank Brisket Short plate Flank

Veal Leg/round Sirloin Loin Rib Shoulder Foreshank Breast

Pork Leg/ham Loin Blade shoulder Jowl Arm shoulder Spareribs Side

Lamb Leg Loin Rib Shoulder Neck Foreshank Breast

Retail cuts of beef

Retail cuts of lamb

Composition Meat composition can be defined either in physical or chemical terms. Physical composition is observed visually and with objective measurements; chemical composition is determined by chemical analysis.

Physical composition The major physical components of meat are lean (muscle), fat, bone (Fig. 3.5), and connective tissue. The proportions of fat, lean, and bone change from birth to slaughter time. Connective tissue, which to a large extent determines meat tenderness, exist in several different forms and locations. For example, tendons are composed of connective tissues (collagen), which attaches muscle to bone. Other collagenous connective tissues hold muscle bundles together and provide the covering to each muscle fiber. Myofibrils are component parts of muscle fibers; muscle fibers combined together comprise a muscle or muscle system. Within the myofibrils are two types of myofilaments namelt thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments.

Chemical composition

Since muscle or lean meat is the primary carcass component consumed. Chemical composition is important because it largely determines the nutritive value of meat. Muscle consists of approximately 65-75 % water, 15-20 % protein, 2-12% fat, and 1 % minerals (ash). As the animal increase in weight, water and protein percentages decrease and fat percentage increases. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are contained in the fat component of meat. Most B vitamins (water-soluble) are abundant in muscle.

The major protein in muscle is actomyosin, a globulin consisting of the two proteins actin and myosin. Most of the other nitrogenous extracts in meats are relatively unimportant nutritionally. However, these other extracts provide aroma and flavor in meat, which stimulate the flow of gastric juices. Simple carbohydrates in muscle are less than 1%. Glucose and glycogen are concentrated in the liver. They are not too important nutritionally, but they do have an important effect on meat quality, particularly muscle color and water holding capacity.


All products other than the carcass meat are designated as byproducts, even though many of them are wholesome and highly nutritious items in the human diet. Among these byproducts are sheep pelts, hides, fats, blood, bones, and intestines.