Due to the high variability and complex colour distribution in meats and meat products, the colour signal calibration of any computer vision system used for colour quality evaluations, represents an essential condition for objective and consistent analyses. This paper compares two methods for CIE colour characterization using a computer vision system (CVS) based on digital photography; namely the polynomial transform procedure and the transform proposed by the sRGB standard. Also, it presents a procedure for evaluating the colour appearance and presence of pores and fat-connective tissue on pre-sliced hams made from pork, turkey and chicken. Our results showed high precision, in colour matching, for device characterization when the polynomial transform was used to match the CIE tristimulus values in comparison with the sRGB standard approach as indicated by their ΔE(ab)(∗) values. The [3×20] polynomial transfer matrix yielded a modelling accuracy averaging below 2.2 ΔE(ab)(∗) units. Using the sRGB transform, high variability was appreciated among the computed ΔE(ab)(∗) (8.8±4.2). The calibrated laboratory CVS, implemented with a low-cost digital camera, exhibited reproducible colour signals in a wide range of colours capable of pinpointing regions-of-interest and allowed the extraction of quantitative information from the overall ham slice surface with high accuracy. The extracted colour and morphological features showed potential for characterizing the appearance of ham slice surfaces. CVS is a tool that can objectively specify colour and appearance properties of non-uniformly coloured commercial ham slices.