Abalone meat has long been held in high regard for its unique sensory properties of texture and flavor, as well as its appearance. From a physicochemical viewpoint, the concentrations of certain free amino acids (especially glycine and glutamate) and the nucleotide AMP have been implicated as major factors characterizing the taste of abalone, and there seems to be a strong interaction (synergism) between them. The texture of abalone meat is related to the distribution of protein within the foot, and there is a good correlation between the collagen content and the toughness of abalone. These physicochemical factors, which largely define quality, may be influenced by species, season, diet, physiological condition and genetic factors. Protocols for handling and transport, and processing also influence quality; lactic acid is considered a useful post-mortem indicator of “freshness” in abalone meat. This review focuses on the abovementioned physicochemical factors and their link to abalone quality, and briefly discusses market related aspects and objective methods used for assessing quality attributes in abalone.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4