The Digestibility Of Meat

The fibers in the meat of chicken and turkey are shorter than in beef and mutton. This makes them tender. The white meat of chicken is especially tender on account of the tender fibers and the small amount of connective tissue. Not much is really known, however, in regard to the comparative digestibility of different kinds of meat. Many books quote experiments which have determined the length of time meat remains in the stomach. Undoubtedly this time is affected by the toughness, the method of cooking, the amount of fat present, and the degree to which it has been ground up by the teeth, as well as by the kind of meat eaten. It is well proved that much fat means that the meat stays a longer time in the stomach.

Tables have been made from these results, in regard to ease and lack of discomfort in digestion, which agree pretty well with popular opinions. In general, the rarer the meat and the less fat present, the more quickly it passes from the stomach. But as little is known regarding intestinal digestion, this is only part of the story. It has been shown, however, that differences in digestibility are not at all marked if determined by the test of the total amount which is digested and absorbed. Then meat ranks with milk and eggs, being from ninety-seven to ninety-eight per cent digested and absorbed. As protein in general is not more than ninety-five per cent digested and absorbed, meat must be ranked as a food that is well utilized and fairly rapidly digested.

Opinions differ as to whether there is any essential difference in the amount and kinds of extractives present in "light" and "dark", or in "red" meat. That there are slight differences is indicated by the distinctive flavors of the different kinds, but that these are sufficient to warrant the allowing of some and the exclusion of others from the diet under different circumstances, seems hardly warranted.


U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Farmers' Bulletin No. 182. "Poultry as Food."


1. What kinds of game are found in your local market? When?

2. Is game brought into market usually cheap? Is rabbit?

3. Give a table showing seasons when chicken, fowl, turkey, geese, and ducks are best, and give price per pound.

4. Discuss good methods of preparing a tough bird.