Putrid odors are found most commonly in large cuts of meats. The putrid odor is very offensive. Many describe the odor as being foul or tainted. You, the veterinary food inspection specialist, should be aware that a foul odor is characteristic and desirable in certain products, such as Limburger cheese.
a. Abnormal Characteristics. In addition to the putrid odor, abnormal characteristics of affected items include a putrid flavor and changes in the texture and color of the product. A darkening effect on the product will be seen in the development of the putrid-odor condition. A softening of the texture, resulting in a mushy product, accompanies the formation of putrid odor.
b. Cause. The putrid odor is caused by the anaerobic decomposition of protein by bacteria, mainly the Clostridium species. The bacteria cannot utilize proteins as they are found in a food source. Therefore, the bacteria secrete an enzyme which breaks the protein into simpler compounds, such as indole, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and free amino acids. The bacteria cell wall is then able to utilize these compounds as food. Since many of these compounds are very odoriferous, they give the characteristic putrid odor.
c. Summary. Putrid odor may be summarized by the following diagram.
(Protein) Temp Ammonia
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