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Fresh meat bad for your health, new study warns

Fresh meat is not good for you, a new study says. According to a report by the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT), Kenyans should go for meat that has taken longer than a day and in a cold environment (cold chain).

“This is because the meat is likely to be safe and of better quality,” said private food safety consultant Erastus Kang’ethe.

Prof Kang’ethe said Kenyans should take to “cold” meat as opposed to “hot” since at the start, disease causing organisms are likely to be absent even as the meat itself stands to become much better with time. “There is a difference between meat and muscle. Meat is what has undergone “rigor” or what has taken 12 to 24 hours after slaughter,” he said.

As a result, Prof Kang’ethe said preserved “aged” meat is likely to be of better quality than so called “fresh” meat. “Chilling of meat inhibits microbial growth and allows aging of meat leading to improved quality in terms of tenderness and flavour,” he said.

Kang’ethe further pointed out that colour is not the real test of safe or better meat as that is bound to change. “After slaughter, meat colour changes from cherry red to bright red. After storage, which is essential for preservation, meat changes to dark red. So unless otherwise, colour alone can mislead,” said Prof Kang’ethe.

The researcher said under the right conditions, meat does not have to be consumed on the same day. He asked value chain players to put more effort at maintaining professionalism in handling meat. “Meat safety begins from the farm to plate,” he said. 

His recommendations come against the backdrop that most Kenyans prefer “hot” to “cold” meat. “Hot chain meat is preferred by majority of consumers, with the low income segment representing the highest proportion at 85.7 per cent compared to middle income at 59.8 per cent and high income at 46.5 per cent,” said Kenya Market Trust Head of Livestock Research Bonface Kaberia.

Kaberia said only two per cent of meat sold undergoes the cold chain process. Dr Kaberia called on value chain players to invest in cold chain technology.

“However, according to our study, the main reasons for low access to cold chain in the country includes high cost of equipment and high cost of power,” he said. 

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