H.J. SWATLAND - emeritus research

This site is a post-script to my teaching page at the University of Guelph  Growth & Structure of Meat Animals  and indexes my research since retirement at the end of 2006. One experiment leads to another for the curious scientist – why should retirement terminate curiosity?




220. Swatland, H.J. 2007. Stratification of toughness in beef roasts. Meat Science, 77: 2-6.

Meat toughness can be measured with cylindrical cores of meat cut in a shear press. But a whole roast of beef is a far more complex system, with various layers affected to differing degrees by cooking, as shown in this research using a fluorescence penetrometer.

221. Swatland, H.J. 2008. How pH causes paleness or darkness in chicken breast meat.  Meat Science, 80: 396-400.

It is widely known among meat scientists that natural acidification causes meat to become progressively more pale. This is essential to give a bright appearance to beef, but may become a problem if it goes too far in pork and poultry meat. The experiments reported in this paper explain how acidification changes the optical properties of meat.

222. Swatland, H.J. 2008. Changes in publication statistics when electronic submission was introduced in an international applied science journal. Journal of Science Communication, 07, A03.

The fact that you are reading this proves that the internet has enhanced the way we communicate science. Electronic publishing of science produced some major changes, a few of which are documented here.

223. Swatland, H.J. 2010. Effect of granule size on the interference colors of starch in polarized  light. Biotechnic & Histochemistry, 84: 329-336.

Plants store sugars as starch, and starch granules are a major food ingredient. It is widely known among food scientists that starch granules appear with a Maltese cross when viewed with a polarizing microscope. Under certain conditions, the quadrants of the cross may light up with diagonal pairs of colours. This research explains why.

224. Swatland, H.J. 2010. Polarized-light interferometry of calcium carbonate deposition in moss  from a waterfall on the Niagara Escarpment.  Microscopy & Microanalysis, 16: 306-312.

Sometimes waterfalls on the Niagara Escarpment are surrounded by petrified mosses.  This research shows how lime is deposited on mosses.

225. Swatland, H.J.. 2010. Transatlantic communication in the early years of the International Scientific Series (1871 to 1875). Journal of  Science Communication 9 (2) A03.

In the age of the internet, we all take popular science and the international communication of science for granted – but how did these important ideas get started?    

226. Swatland, H.J. 2010.  Meat products and consumption culture in the West.  Meat Science, 86: 80-85.

Our remote ancestors ate meat, and so do most of us now. Meat has been around for the whole of our history – in wars, religions, language, literature, laws and technology. Here are some of the main points.

227. Swatland, H.J. 2011. Microphotometry of underwater shadowing by a moss from a Niagara Escarpment waterfall.  Microscopy & Microanalysis, 17, 125-131. 

Have you ever seen flickering patterns of light on the forest floor, or on the bottom of a swimming pool?  What would you see if you were very small and you could swim under mosses in a waterfall? 

228. Swatland, H.J. 2011. Iridescence in beef caused by multilayer interference from sarcomere discs. Meat Science, 90: 398-401.

Rainbow colours of oil on water, and rainbow colours on beetles and butterfly wings are a familiar sight, and the causes are well known . But what causes rainbow colours on meat?

Plate 14.jpg

229. Swatland, H.J. 2012. Groundwater temperature and degassing in the Mad River subwatershed of Lake Huron. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 38: 117-120.

Water seeping through limestone makes a major contribution to streams and rivers feeding into the Great Lakes of North America. Scientists around the World are watching the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but levels are much higher in the soil, where it is produced by microbial respiration. Carbon dioxide dissolves in groundwater, but blows into the atmosphere when the groundwater emerges into streams. What buffering will vast quantities of slowly moving groundwater give us against rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere? How might changes in groundwater acidity and temperature affect our fish? Nobody knows right now, which is why we need the baseline measurements in this research paper.



230.  Swatland, H.J. 2012. Muscle iridescence in yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares). Food Research International.  48: 449-463.

This shows that iridescence in tuna muscle is just like iridescence in beef – most likely caused by reflective interference from A-bands.

Plate 12.JPG

231. Swatland, H.J. 2012. Developing new technology for measuring camelid meat quality. Journal of Camelid Science 5: 25-40.

Preliminary research for adapting on-line prediction methods to camel meat, including polarized-light interferometry.

232. Swatland, H.J. 2014.  Reflectance versus transmittance: the effects of light scattering on red colorants (carmine, Amazonian red annatto, and Peruvian cochinilla rojo and rosada) in biological, textile and museum science. Color Research and Application. 39: 599-606.

From textile fibers to biological samples it looks as if light scattering in the sample has more effect on colorimetry than the way in which the color is measured.

233. Swatland, H.J. 2016. Interference colorimetry of starch granules. Color Research and Application 41: 352-357. The subjective evaluation of interference colours is a standard method of identifying minerals in rock sections – but the reference charts are highly variable because they use colorants in an attempt to simulate what happens when sinusoidal waves interact with the spectral sensitivities of the human eye.  Being somewhat reluctant to challenge a standard method in mineralogy, I chose to work on starch granules and to solve an ancient problem in polarized light microscopy. Jonathan Pereira, one of the great pioneers in pharmacology, reported in 1843 that starch granules exhibited a quadrant of diagonally paired interference colors when viewed under a polarizing microscope fitted with a selenite compensator. Research showed that the weighted-ordinate method of colorimetry could be used to measure this phenomenon and that, as expected, it was a function of the diameter of the starch granules. OK – this research will get ignored by mineralogists, but it satisfies my curiosity.




234. Swatland, H.J. 2016. Starch granules in polarized light, following Pereira into the ultraviolet. Quekett Journal of Microscopy 42: 601-609.  This research challenges some current beliefs held by food scientists and shows that the birefringence of starch granules (as seen above) is caused primarily by straight chains of amylose.

235. Swatland, H.J. 2017. Colored clays in a groundwater stream, correlating fiber-optic reflectance with electrical impedance. Hydrology Current Research 8:283. Wikipedia suggests that  the coloured clays on the Niagara Escarpment might be caused by acid groundwater. No evidence of this was found, whereas a combination of palaeontology and fibre-optic reflectance indicated that clay colour is determined by shale colour, and that shale colour may be determined by aerobic versus anaerobic conditions at the time of sediment formation.

236. Swatland, H.J. 2017. A review of microcolorimetry for textile, food, dental and optoelectronic industries. Asian Journal of Engineering and Technology 5: 140-151 Macroscopic colorimetry is an essential tool for color matching in many industries, but microcolorimetry has been neglected. From individual fibers in a complex textile pattern to the dental fillings in our mouths – their colors can all be measured.

237. Swatland, H.J. 2017. On wetting Muscovy glass and a peacock feather, following Robert Hooke to investigate the colourimetry of meat iridescence. Queckett Journal of Microscopy 43: 125-130. As the first great microscopist discovered, multilayer interference survives under water while surface diffraction does not. Hooke’s discovery is used to show that iridescence in meat is not from surface diffraction, but from multilayer interference.  The multilayers are the sarcomere discs discovered by Bowman (another great microscopist).




128. Swatland, H.J. 2011. Meat Consumption. Changes in the course of time. Fleischwirtschaft International, 26 (2): 59-60.

An invited abbreviated version of #226 above, for a commercial publication.

129. Swatland, H.J. 2011. Basic science for carcass grading. VI Congresso Brasileiro de Ciência e Tecnologia de Carnes, 6: 119-126.  

An invited conference presentation guessing how basic science, from sensory perception, through x-ray diffraction for the effects of pH on interfilament separation, to interferometry in meat, might be used to grade meat.

130. Swatland, H.J. 2012. Developing new technology for measuring camelid meat quality. 3rd Conference of the International Society of Camelid Research and Development, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Keynote Presentations, p. 52-62.

An invited conference presentation on how on-line evaluation of meat might be applied for the grading of camel meat.

131. Swatland, H.J. 2012. History and language of international meat cutting. Proceedings of the Reciprocal Meat Conference, Fargo, North Dakota.

      An invited conference presentation on how the terminology of US meat cuts may have developed linguistically from Ancient Greece to the present day, via Norse and Old English and French.

132. Swatland, H.J. 2012. Optical properties of meat. Proceedings of the Reciprocal Meat Conference, Fargo, North Dakota.

     An invited conference presentation on how light scattering affects meat colorimetry.

133. Swatland, H.J. 2012. Posibilidades futuras de los sensores en línea para productos cárnicos. Herramientas Tecnológicas Aplicadas a Calidad y Diferenciación de Carne. Pp. 7-13.  Compilador, Dra. Gabriela Grigioni - Ing. M.Fernanda Paschetta Área de Análisis Físicos y Sensoriales, Instituto de Tecnologia de Alimentos, INTA

     A review of how on-line evaluation of meat might be used in South America.

134. Swatland, H.J. 2013. Prospects for online grading of camel meat yield and quality. In Camel meat and Meat Products (I.T. Kadim, O. Mahgoub, B. Faye & M.M. Farouk, editors), CAB International, Oxford. pp. 85-97.

A book chapter expanding on how on-line evaluation might be used for camel meat.

135. Swatland, H.J. 2014. Growth of Meat Animals: Muscle. In: Carrick Devine & Michael Dikeman, editors, Encyclopedia of Meat Sciences 2e, Vol. 2, Oxford: Elsevier. Pp. 70-74.

Explains the histology of muscle growth in meat animals.

136. Swatland, H.J. 2014. Groundwater streams running over clay on the talus slope of the Niagara Escarpment  (Canada): an overview with ecological implications.  In: S.M. Adelana, editor,  Groundwater: Hydrochemistry, Environmental Impacts and Management Practices, Nova Publishers, Hauppauge, NY.




Cold groundwater in a river bed creates suitable conditions for the spawning of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). In some locations along the Niagara Escarpment, groundwater discharged from a primary aquifer may run, exposed to the atmosphere, down a slope of clay into the river. At other locations, the flow above clay may be within the overburden and only exposed at odd sites, such as the stream vent described in this chapter.  In exposed streams, travertine deposited by the degassing of calcium-rich groundwater after passing over clay is darker than upstream deposits.  Spectrocolorimetry of travertine, clays and shale, and electrical impedance of clays were used to gather supporting information. Ecological sampling showed a rich river fauna in the study area, mostly associated with pristine water.

137. Swatland, H.J. 2017. Optical studies on small waterfalls and their splash zones. In: Advances in Environmental Research 57: 143-160. Nova Science Publishers, New York.

A variety of optical methods were used to investigate the flicker patterns of light in small waterfalls and their splash zones.  Flicker patterns are important for the photosynthesis of plants in and around small waterfalls, especially mosses. In a forest environment, the intensity of incident light was increased when the sky was clouded and when deciduous trees lacked leaves.  Light penetrated deeply into waterlogged splash zones by a series of reflections from living moss leaves, as shown by using polarized light to detect Fresnel reflectance.  Penetration was also high through dead, brown moss below the living moss, but this was because only the walls of empty cells remained. Flicker patterns in flowing water originated from surface lensing and bubbles, and were measured using optical fibers.  In the splash zone, flickering was increased by shadowing from moving moss leaves.  Shadowing by bubbles was estimated from transmittance measurements made with a microscope spectrophotometer. Shadowing from large bubbles was mainly from the Becke line (refractive index boundary) around the bubbles.  Small bubbles cast strong shadows if the Becke line occluded the central axis of the bubble.








7. Swatland, H.J. 2014. Eating Meat: Science and Consumption Culture.  5M Publishing, Sheffield, UK.

This is not a text-book but a series of personal observations and arguments to support the idea that meat consumption culture can give us a new perspective on meat science, and vice versa.


Eating Meat: Science and Consumption Culture



1. H.J. Swatland. Estructura y desarrollo de los animales de abasto. Pedro Ducar Maluenda (Translator). Vísceras y subproductos. Los tejidos conjuntivos de la canal. Estructura comercial de la canal. Distribución anatómica de los músculos de la canal. Estructura y propiedades de la carne. Diferenciación de las fibras musculares y relaciones neuromusculares. Base celular del crecimiento muscular postnatal. Crecimiento y desarrollo animal. Conversión del músculo en carne. Editorial Acribia.

2. H.J. Swatland. Evaluación de la carne en la cadena de producción.  Antonio Vercet Tormo (Translator). Clasificación de canales y rendimiento en carne de la canal - pH y calidad de la carne - Sondas ópticas - Propiedades electromecánicas de la carne - Propiedades ópticas de la carne - Propiedades eléctricas de la carne - Color de la carne - Predicción de la capacidad de retención de agua - Fluorescencia del tejido conectivo - Evaluación en línea de la grasa - Análisis de imagen por vídeo - Cocción y procesado - Mejora y clasificación de los productos cárnicos. Editorial Acribia.


ERRATA. The origin of the universe was probably the consequence of a divine mistake, so the mistakes in my work should be viewed in their proper light, as small echoes of the primaeval big bang.


228. The colour figure of iridescence is for iliocostalis not iliopsoas, but identical iridescence can be seen in iliopsoas, so this error does not worry me too much.

234. On page 602, corrections made to the final copy did not reach the printer – straight chains have 1-4 linkage, while branch points have 1-6 linkage.