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Meat quality: influence of animals’ characteristics and rearing conditions

INRA Prod Anim 28(2) 151-168


1 INRA, UMR1348 PEGASE, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France
2 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR1348 PEGASE, F-35000 Rennes, France
3 INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France
4 Clermont Université, VetAgro Sup, UMR1213 Herbivores, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France
5 INRA, UR83 Recherches Avicoles, F-37380 Nouzilly, France
6 INRA, UR1037 Physiologie et Génomique des Poissons, F-35000 Rennes, France
7 INRA, UR1067 Nutrition, Métabolisme, Aquaculture, F-64310 Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, France


This review describes the influences of the characteristics of animals and their rearing conditions on the quality of meat and flesh in the main livestock species (pig, cattle, sheep, poultry, fish). Both the intrinsic (carcass composition and sensory, nutritional and technological qualities) and extrinsic (interactions between animal production and the environment, animal welfare, origin of products, authenticity of production practices…) dimensions of quality of meat and flesh products are considered. In all animal species, the genotype and feeding practices are the main factors determining carcass composition. Feed composition is the main factor modulating nutritional quality, even though the enrichment level of meat or flesh with fatty acids, minerals or vitamins favorable for human health depends on the species considered. Within species, interactions between the characteristics of animals and their rearing and slaughtering conditions determine the properties (intramuscular fat, glycogen, myoglobin contents…) and peri and postmortem metabolism of muscles and, consequently, the sensory quality of meat or flesh and their products. Conversely, the technological quality of meat, which is important especially for pig, poultry and fish mainly results from the animal genotype and the slaughtering and processing techniques. In all meat animal chains, some productions are differentiated on claims on extrinsic qualities of products and are guaranteed to consumers by official quality schemes. They aim at improving the positive interactions between animal production and environment and/or animal welfare, or guaranteeing products origin or authenticity of production and processing methods. Some examples are described to underline the awareness of meat chain actors about the increasing demand from consumers and more generally citizens towards their diet.

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