Visual Intrinsic Character

  • Joseph William Holloway
  • Jianping Wu


Perhaps the earliest indicator of quality of the eating experience expected is how the food appears. Although appearances can be deceiving, under many eating circumstances, the visual appearance of the food is predictive of the eating experience perhaps through the Pavlovian effect. This chapter addresses the subjective sense of visual presentation in the realization that the importance of the visual presentation varies across cultures and the character desired by different cultures also varies. As for all intrinsic characteristics of red meat, this chapter presents a review of the scientific literature concerning the methodology of objectively quantifying a subjective sensory experience (vision), the science governing the nature of important visual characteristics of red meat, and the production system elements thought sensitive to these characteristics.

Visual quality characteristics include portion size, lean and fat color, firmness, and the amount of visible subcutaneous, intermuscular and intramuscular fat. The amount, composition, and color of fat and lean may not only impact visual attractiveness but also eating quality and product healthfulness (as discussed in this text). Different markets may differ in visual characteristics considered attractive. For example, South and Central American markets are more lenient in accepting yellow fat than North American markets. Appearance of food is possibly more important in Asia especially in Japan but also in China (Busboom and Reeves (2013). In the USA, visual quality characteristics associated with grass-fed beef are discriminated against. These visual quality characteristics are lean that is two-toned or heat-ringed and fat that is not creamy white (Miller 2001).

Among intrinsic meat characteristics, the two that are arguably the most important are price and visual appearance because these are the first two attributes for which information is available to the potential consumer before purchase and, therefore, play leading roles at the decision point at which a customer ascertains quality in his search for purchasing red meat (Henchion et al. 2017). In this text, price is considered a “bottom-line” trait as the culmination of efficiencies resulting from a cascade of production delivery decisions. This text will, therefore, consider price in the last section when the production system and the resulting product are considered holistically. Since visual traits are apparent to the potential consumer at the crucial decision point at time of purchase, these intrinsic traits are considered only second in importance after the overriding trait of safety. In fact, the only cues the customer has concerning safety at the decision time of purchase are visual cues.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. and Science Press 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph William Holloway
    • 1
  • Jianping Wu
    • 2
  1. 1.Animal ScienceTexas A&M UniversityUvaldeUSA
  2. 2.Gansu Academy of Agricultural SciencesLanzhouChina

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