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CIRCUMSTANCES IMPACTING THE QUALITY OF MEAT

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					CIRCUMSTANCES IMPACTING THE QUALITY OF MEAT.

During the period between the birth and maturity of animals, their flesh
undergoes very considerable changes. For instance, when the animal is
young, the fluids which the tissues of the muscles contain, possess a
large proportion of what is called albumen . This albumen, which is also
the chief component of the white of eggs, possesses the peculiarity of
coagulating or hardening at a certain temperature, like the white of a
boiled egg, into a soft, white fluid, no longer soluble, or capable of
being dissolved in water. As animals grow older, this peculiar animal
matter gradually decreases, in proportion to the other constituents of
the juice of the flesh. Thus, the reason why veal, lamb are white, and
without gravy when cooked, is, that the large quantity of albumen they
contain hardens, or becomes coagulated. On the other hand, the reason why
beef and mutton are brown, and have gravy , is, that the proportion of
albumen they contain, is small, in comparison with their greater quantity
of fluid which is soluble, and not coagulable.

The quality of the flesh of an animal is considerably influenced by the
nature of the food on which it has been fed ; for the food supplies the
material which produces the flesh. If the food be not suitable and good,
the meat cannot be good either. To the experienced in this matter, it is
well known that the flesh of animals fed on farinaceous produce, such as
corn, pulse, &c., is firm, well-flavoured, and also economical in the
cooking; that the flesh of those fed on succulent and pulpy substances,
such as roots, possesses these qualities in a somewhat less degree;
whilst the flesh of those whose food contains fixed oil, as linseed, is
greasy, high coloured, and gross in the fat, and if the food has been
used in large quantities, possessed of a rank flavour.

It is indispensable to the good quality of meat, that the animal should
be perfectly healthy at the time of its slaughter. However slight the
disease in an animal may be, inferiority in the quality of its flesh, as
food, is certain to be produced. In most cases, indeed, as the flesh of
diseased animals has a tendency to very rapid putrefaction, it becomes
not only unwholesome, but absolutely poisonous, on account of the
absorption of the virus of the unsound meat into the systems of those
who partake of it. The external indications of good and bad meat will be
described under its own particular head, but we may here premise that the
layer of all wholesome meat, when freshly killed, adheres firmly to the
bone.

Another circumstance greatly affecting the quality of meat, is the
animal's treatment before it is slaughtered . This influences its value
and wholesomeness in no inconsiderable degree. It will be easy to
understand this, when we reflect on those leading principles by which the
life of an animal is supported and maintained. These are, the digestion
of its food, and the assimilation of that food into its substance.
Nature, in effecting this process, first reduces the food in the stomach
to a state of pulp, under the name of chyme, which passes into the
intestines, and is there divided into two principles, each distinct from
the other. One, a milk-white fluid, the nutritive portion, is absorbed by
innumerable vessels which open upon the mucous membrane, or inner coat of
the intestines. These vessels, or absorbents, discharge the fluid into a
common duct, or road, along which it is conveyed to the large veins in
the neighbourhood of the heart. Here it is mixed with the venous blood
(which is black and impure) returning from every part of the body, and
then it supplies the waste which is occasioned in the circulating stream
by the arterial (or pure) blood having furnished matter for the substance
of the animal. The blood of the animal having completed its course
through all parts, and having had its waste recruited by the digested
food, is now received into the heart, and by the action of that organ it
is urged through the lungs, there to receive its purification from the
air which the animal inhales. Again returning to the heart, it is forced
through the arteries, and thence distributed, by innumerable
ramifications, called capillaries, bestowing to every part of the animal,
life and nutriment. The other principle the innutritive portion passes
from the intestines, and is thus got rid of. It will now be readily
understood how flesh is affected for bad, if an animal is slaughtered
when the circulation of its blood has been increased by over-driving,
ill-usage, or other causes of excitement, to such a degree of rapidity as
to be too great for the capillaries to perform their functions, and
causing the blood to be congealed in its minuter vessels. Where this has
been the case, the meat will be dark-coloured, and become rapidly putrid;
so that self-interest and humanity alike dictate kind and gentle
treatment of all animals destined to serve as food for man.

				
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