The sensory attributes of meat are linked to the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Although taste and tenderness are two of the most important sensory attributes of meat, they are generally the last to be evaluated. Consumers gain their first exposure to the sensory attributes through sight as they evaluate the appearance of meat products at retail. Several characteristics, such as color, degree of fatness, surface texture, and many others, aid in and drive consumers’ purchasing decisions. Next, odor is evaluated to determine freshness and desirability prior to cooking, while aroma develops during the cooking process. The perception of flavor encompasses both the senses of taste and smell. Finally, consumers gauge tenderness according to the force required for them to bite through meat or the ease in which they cut through muscle fibers with their teeth during mastication. Although most or all of these attributes can and often do overlap, they are generally perceived in the following order:




Flavor (volatiles, chemical feelings, taste)