Aging mechanism for improving the tenderness and taste characteristics of meat
Tenderness and taste characteristics of meat are the key determinants of the meat choices of consumers. This review summarizes the contemporary research on the molecular mechanisms by which postmortem aging of meat improves the tenderness and taste characteristics. The fundamental mechanism by which postmortem aging improves the tenderness of meat involves the operation of the calpain system due to apoptosis, resulting in proteolytic enzyme-induced degradation of cytoskeletal myofibrillar proteins. The improvement of taste characteristics by postmortem aging is mainly explained by the increase in the content of taste-related peptides, free amino acids, and nucleotides produced by increased hydrolysis activity. This review improves our understanding of the published research on tenderness and taste characteristics of meat and provides insights to improve these attributes of meat through postmortem aging.