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Stress Effects on Meat Quality: A Mechanistic Perspective

Xing, Tong, Gao, Feng, Tume, Ronald K., Zhou, Guanghong, Xu, Xinglian
Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety 2019 v.18 no.2 pp. 380-401
animal welfare, apoptosis, calcium signaling, calpain, carcass quality, cathepsins, energy metabolism, farms, heat shock proteins, heat stress, livestock husbandry, meat, meat quality, muscle fibers, oxidative stress, physiological state, proteolysis, reactive oxygen species, slaughterhouses, stress response
Stress inevitably occurs from the farm to abattoir in modern livestock husbandry. The effects of stress on the behavioral and physiological status and ultimate meat quality have been well documented. However, reports on the mechanism of stress effects on physiological and biochemical changes and their consequent effects on meat quality attributes have been somewhat disjointed and limited. Furthermore, the causes of variability in meat quality traits among different animal species, muscle fibers within an animal, and even positions within a piece of meat in response to stress are still not entirely clear. This review 1st summarizes the primary stress factors, including heat stress, preslaughter handling stress, oxidative stress, and other stress factors affecting animal welfare; carcass quality; and eating quality. This review further delineates potential stress‐induced pathways or mediators, including AMP‐activated protein kinase‐mediated energy metabolism, crosstalk among calcium signaling pathways and reactive oxygen species, protein modification, apoptosis, calpain and cathepsin proteolytic systems, and heat shock proteins that exert effects that cause biochemical changes during the early postmortem period and affect the subsequent meat quality. To obtain meat of high quality, further studies are needed to unravel the intricate mechanisms involving the aforementioned signaling pathways or mediators and their crosstalk.