This paper describes the microstructure of whole-muscle meat products. It describes the microstructure of hams of the highest quality, choice hams, standard hams, and other whole-muscle products including dry-cured hams and poultry hams. The histological characterisation of pork ham of the highest quality and choice ham indicates that skeletal muscle forms demarcated areas connected by a protein matrix formed of released muscle proteins. Sites of brightening following injection may be evident in the muscle fibres, particularly on longitudinal cuts. In standard hams, skeletal muscle forms smaller, clearly demarcated areas with a larger proportion of protein matrix. Hydrocolloids (native and modified starch, carrageenans, xanthans and plant proteins) are a commonly detectable part of the protein matrix in standard hams. Other whole-muscle products that do not fall under the definition of ham have clearly demarcated large areas of skeletal muscle, with food additives of plant origin detectable in the protein matrix. Closer connections between the muscle fibres are evident histologically in the group dry-cured hams. The skeletal muscle in these products is, however, subject to the smallest degree of histological change.
The microstructure of whole-muscle meat products
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