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Use of electrical stimulation and chilling to enhance meat tenderness of heavy lambs

Pouliot, E., Gariépy, C., Thériault, M., Castonguay, F. W.
Canadian journal of plant science 2014 v.94 no.4 pp. 627-637
body weight, cold, cold treatment, electrical treatment, lambs, meat, meat tenderness, pH, sarcomeres, shear stress, slaughter, slaughterhouses, temperature, Quebec
Pouliot, E., Gariépy, C., Thériault, M. and Castonguay, F. W. 2014. Use of electrical stimulation and chilling to enhance meat tenderness of heavy lambs. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 94: 627–637. The aim of this study was to determine if electrical stimulation and chilling can modulate pre-rigor pH–temperature dynamics in order to enhance meat tenderness of heavy lambs produced in Quebec and determine if there is an optimum carcass temperature window to reach pH 6.0. A total of 128 heavy lambs (fasted body weight between 38 and 52 kg) were selected at the abattoir over 8 slaughter days (16 lambs d–¹) and assigned to four processing treatments in a 2×2 factorial design: electrical stimulation (ES) or not (NES) and normal (NC) or slow (SC) chilling. Slow-chilled carcasses stayed warmer during the first 12 h postmortem (P<0.001), but reached the same temperature as NC ones thereafter. They also had a lower pH between 2 and 12 h (P<0.05). Stimulated carcasses had a lower pH than NES throughout the first 24 h postmortem (P<0.001), while ultimate pH was similar (P=0.738). Shear force values were improved (P<0.001) by both ES and aging as expected, although chilling had no effect (P=0.400). Stimulation×aging interactions for shear force values (P=0.019) and myofibrillar fragmentation index (P=0.097) indicate that aging began earlier following ES. Sarcomeres were longer for ES compared with NES carcasses (P<0.001) indicating that the latter were subject to cold shortening. Meat from NES carcasses was more prone to be tough, although an important part of NES carcasses provided tender meat. This illustrates the importance of individual variations on tenderness and the multiplicity of factors involved in its development. No optimal window was observed for temperature at pH 6.0.