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Electrical Stimulation of Chicken Carcass
Makes Meat More Tender By
December 17, 2002
A new processing wrinkle developed by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
may allow older, egg-producing layer hens to be processed like broiler birds.
Usually, mature birds are processed for lower-value items such as feed, pressed
products like chicken nuggets, or use in canned foods.
ARS researchers J. Andra Dickens, Clyde E. Lyon, Richard H. Buhr
and Brenda G. Lyon of the Richard B. Russell Research Center in Athens, Ga.,
found that electrical stimulation of carcasses makes breast meat from mature
laying hens more tender and speeds up processing.
Poultry plants processed more than 8.25 billion broilers in
2000, valued at more than $14 billion. In December 2001, the laying hen
inventory was estimated to be 335 million, most of which could be processed as
high-quality meat using electrical stimulation.
Processing broilers is an assembly line affair, with time built
in for chilling the meat before removing the bone. Breast muscle that remains
on the bone for four to six hours after the bird has been processed is deemed
to have optimal tenderness.
Reducing the on-the-bone chilling time normally interferes with
the process of rigor mortis, making the meat tough and chewy when cooked. But
the electrically stimulated carcass is ready to be deboned after chilling for
only two hours. This saves processors time, because workers can debone the
carcass during the same shift instead of waiting for the next shift.
about this research in the
December 2002 issue
of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.