classifications of meat

Meat is classified as the muscle tissue of dead animals and birds.

There are 4 main meat sources:

  • Animals: pork (pigs), beef (cattle), lamb (sheep).
  • Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck, goose.
  • Game: feathered or furred; venison, rabbit, pheasant.
  • Offal: liver, tongue, tripe, kidney, heart, brain, trotters.
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The structure of meat

  • Meat is a muscle made of cells, which consist of fibres held together by connective tissue. Long fibres are associated with tough meat - the older an animal is, the tougher the meat.
  • Muscles that work a lot, such as the thighs and shoulders of the animal, provide tough meat, e.g. shin beef, brisket. Small fibres are associated with tender cuts.
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Meat cuts

  • Cuts of meat from muscle areas that do a lot of work will need longer, slower cooking methods in wet heat, e.g. stewing, braising, pot roasting and casseroling.
  • Meat from tougher cuts can be ground or minced to break up the connective tissues so that it cooks more quickly.
  • Cuts of meat from muscle areas not so heavily used by the animal, e.g. the back and the rump, can be cooked much more quickly in dry heat, e.g. grilling, stir frying.
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Cooking meat


  • Marinades are added to meat before cooking to add flavour, and the acid content (e.g. lemon juice, yogurt, wine) breaks down the protein.
  • Meat is tenderised by using a marinade, mincing or using a steak hammer.


  • The browning of meat is caused by a reaction with natural sugars and proteins to produce a dark colour. This is called the Maillard reaction or non-enzymic browning.
  • As meat cooks, the proteins coagulate due to heat. Collagen breaks down into gelatine, making the meat tender.


  • Meat joints can be tested using a meat probe or temperature probe. To determine if a steak is rare, medium or well done the 'poke' test can be learned and used.
  • Meats should not be consumed if undercooked as there is a very high risk of food poisoning or salmonella.
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Cooking different meat joints

PORK :   75-80*C :   30 MINS + 15 MINS (PER 500G)

POULTRY :    75-80*C :     20 MINS + 20 MINS (PER 500G)

BEEF + LAMB :    RARE= 52*C :      20 MINS

                             WELL DONE = 75-80*C :      30 MINS

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Nutritional Content and Storage Information


Meat contains:

  • Protein, including collagen, elastin and myoglobin, which makes the meat red in colour.
  • Fat (saturated) - provides warmth and protection of animal's internal organs.
  • Minerals, e.g. iron, calcium and phosphorus - needed to form red blood cells, bones and teeth, and for energy metabolism.
  • Vitamins B6 and B12 - needed to release energy from foods.
  • Cholesterol.


  • Raw meat should be kept separate from cooked meat to avoid croos-contamination.
  • Raw meat should be stored covered at the bottom of the fridge so meat juices cannot drip onto other foods.
  • Cooked meat should be kept chilled and covered and treated as a high-risk food.
  • Chilled meat should be stored at between 0*C and 5*C.
  • Frozen meat should be stored at between -18*C and -22*C.
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