(1) Abnormal texture. The cut surfaces of the lean tissue should be smooth,
not rough or grainy.
(a) Stickiness or tackiness is an off-condition in which the meat is
slightly adhesive or gummy to the touch. By placing your hand on the carcass and then
removing it slowly, a gluey, sticky feeling is evident which tries to prevent your hand
from being released from the surface.
(b) Slime is a thick liquid, normally yellowish to greenish in color on the
surface of the meat. It is normally sticky to the touch and has a putrid odor. Slime is an
(c) The external surface should be fairly dry without being "dried out."
Excessive moisture, usually referred to as a "sweating" condition, is caused by meat
being held outside the proper temperature range.
(2) Abnormal odor (off-odor). Meat and meat products should have odors
characteristic of that product. Usually by the time stickiness or slime occurs, a distinct
off-odor can be smelled. It may smell sour, rancid, or putrid, depending on the amount
of microbial action that has occurred and whether lean or fat is being attacked.
Uncharacteristic odors such as fish or gasoline should not be present. Cryovac beef
possesses a smothered odor. After prepackaged Cryovac beef has been opened, the
product should be aired (no more than 30 minutes); practically normal odor should then
return. Off-odor is determined by touching the surface of the product and then smelling
your hand to determine if an off-odor is present.
(3) Abnormal color/discoloration (off-color). The fat or lean meat must have
a color typical of the product. Frozen meat will have a dull, darker appearance. See
The Meat Buyer's Guide, published by the North American Meat Processors
Association, for color photographs that illustrate the normal color of beef, pork, lamb,
(a) Dehydration is evidenced by dark, dry, rough-looking meat.
(b) Abnormal liquid in the bag or can is evidenced by excessive liquid.
The liquid (composed of blood and juices) should be dark red in color. In the case of
Cryovac beef, some darkening of the liquid is normal and the meat may be a purplish,
gray color. After prepackaged beef has been opened, the product should be aired for
no more than 30 minutes; practically normal color should then return. Juices are
normally gelatinized in canned hams. If they are found as a liquid, there is cause for
concern. Freezing and defrosting of a product will result in a liquefied gelatin.
(c) Freezer burn is evidenced by abnormal color that may range from
white to amber in affected areas. It is a result of improper humidity in a storage area.