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ARS Aims for
By Sharon Durham
February 19, 2002
Agricultural Research Services
sensory evaluation research helps produce tender, juicy chickens. Getting a
tender chicken to the supermarket may seem simple, but a lot of work goes into
it. A chicken's breeding, diet, and disease-control regimen all play a part in
providing the best possible bird in a cost-efficient manner.
ARS food scientist Brenda Lyons studies in the
Quality Assessment Research Unit in
Athens, Ga., focus on how changes in chicken production affect the taste,
texture and other sensory attributes of the meat. For example, changing a
birds feed, or deciding to package it whole or in pieces, could affect
how desirable the meat is for consumers.
New, more convenient marketing and packaging of chicken parts have allowed
the poultry industry to meet consumer preferences. But cutting the chicken into
premium-priced parts can present a problem. Chilling allows time for the muscle
fibers to go through natural biochemical processes that make muscle tender. If
quickly cut chicken parts dont have enough time to chill, the meat will
Of course, consumers want tender chicken breasts, legs and other parts. To
find out the effect of different processing methods on chicken meat, sensory
evaluation fills the bill. Instruments can measure some characteristics
adequately--for example, the amount of force needed to cut through a piece of
meat. However, human evaluations are necessary to determine aroma, taste,
texture and sound, all of which are quality characteristics perceived by the
Sensory characteristics give clues to changes in product components that
ultimately are responsible for what sensory cues influence consumer acceptance.
This can lead to more efficient, economic production methods for the poultry
industry and help processors and product developers provide better, more
consistent items to the consumer.
A more detailed story on sensory evaluation research appears in the
February issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.