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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Develop Methods to Assess and Improve Poultry and Egg Quality

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Develop improved rapid and non-destructive assessment methods for measuring poultry meat and egg quality: 1.A. Develop improved methods for assessing poultry meat quality properties with spectral imaging and vibrational spectroscopy techniques; 1.B. Develop hyperspectral imaging methods to predict sensory descriptive texture profiles or intensity of texture attributes of poultry meat; and 1.C. Develop rapid methods for grading eggs with imaging and spectroscopy.

2. Develop methods to improve poultry processing and product quality: 2.A. Develop methods to improve poultry processing efficiency; 2.B. Evaluate and develop innovative packaging technologies for retention and improvement of poultry meat shelf-life; and 2.C. Assess the influence of packaging safety interventions on the quality and shelf-life of poultry meat.

3. Develop feeds to maintain or improve poultry meat quality: 3.A. Design feed formulations with bioactive components to improve poultry meat nutritional quality; and 3.B. Assess feed formulations designed to improve poultry meat nutritional quality.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The different methods will be used to establish the relationship between muscle WHC and spectra because different methods show different aspects of WHC, and WHC values obtained with one method may not correlate well with values obtained with another method (Trout, 1988). The filter-paper method shows the total tightly bound water contents in meat which may not be correlated to the free fluid measured by drip loss. The moisture content shows the total water in the meat and provides very useful information for estimation of the variation in drip loss and filter paper measurements. The measurements from the traditional methods and the spectral imaging and vibrational spectroscopic data will then be analyzed using multivariate statistical approaches to discriminate the fillets based on WHC. Chemometric models will be developed to correlate spectral results with traditional WHC measurements. Since the visible/NIR spectra can be affected by muscle color lightness and the WHC can be significantly enhanced by marination, the correlation models will be further tested using marinated broiler fillets with different color lightness to test if the model can discriminate between marinated and un-marinated fillets. Hyperspectral imaging methods can be used to predict sensory descriptive texture measurements. The breast fillets will be deboned at 2h, 4h and 24h and the fillets with the same deboning time will be ground to make patties for both spectral imaging collection and sensory evaluation. Broiler carcasses will be also procured and deboned at different postmortem times. The whole fillets will be used to validate the model developed using ground fillets. Broiler fillets (6 each time and total 120 fillets) with different raw meat lightness (CIE L* values ranging from 47 to 65) and the same aging time (6-8h postmortem) will be obtained from a local chicken processing plant (no grinding). Broiler fillets with different lightness (L* value) have been demonstrated to have different sensory and instrumental texture profiles. Improved water management strategies will increase poultry processing efficiency. This research will identify operating conditions and process modifications that can reduce water consumption, operating costs, and environmental impact of process water at poultry plants by methods of engineering process analysis. This includes the development of process models combined with water quality studies that include chemical and biological investigations to predict the efficacy of alternate water management strategies. Poultry feeds formulated with bioactive components can improve the nutritional quality of poultry meat. Alternative sources of bioactive compounds will be identified in agricultural processing waste and residues. Screening of oilseed meals and other agricultural biomass will be performed to isolate lipid fractions that contain compounds with potential benefit for improving the nutritional quality of poultry meat products.


3.Progress Report:
Rapid quality assessment methods for poultry products continued with visible/near infrared spectral analysis of physical properties including tenderness, WHC, color, and pH. Additional data on freeze-dried samples to reduce the confounding effects of water were collected. Additionally, physical properties were also correlated with Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS). Results showed that pH is highly correlated with sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium indicating that mineral nutritional balance in chicken breast meat is essential to maintaining high quality characteristics.

The sensory laboratory has been updated and sensory panelists were trained in the application of sensory studies for chicken meat. Sensory evaluation is instrumental for consumer acceptance of processing modifications and interventions that may impact product quality.

Low eggshell strength leads to the development of cracks, allowing contamination of eggs by pathogenic bacteria and loss to the industry. A Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) method was developed to correlate the chemical composition of the eggshell with microstructural features that enhance the likelihood of damaged eggshells. Eggshell hardness was related to caIcium emissions from the LIBS.

Raw poultry meat is susceptible to pathogens and only has a shelf life of around one week. A system that generates ozone gas inside a sealed package of boneless skinless chicken breast filets was developed. The system temporarily creates high concentrations of ozone gas inside the packaged chicken meat which killed the bacteria on the meat surface and extended shelf life another week. A Residual Gas Analyzer system was established to test the chemical makeup of sealed poultry packages after ozone treatment. It can read the partial pressures of all gases present in real time and is used to determine the optimum concentrations of ozone or other modified gas mixtures, detect reaction byproducts, and detect residence time of reactive gases.

Exudates from chicken breasts, displaying a wide range of physical quality characteristics, were analyzed by High Performance Anion Exchange Chromatography for the presence of free amino acids. Results indicated that, while numerous free amino acids are present in the exudates, no significant differences were found in the relative concentrations of these amino acids as a function of chicken breast water holding capacity. Further studies on mineral content and organic acids present in breast meat exudates will determine their potential roles as biomarkers for meat quality.

Identification and evaluation of alternative crops to replace feed meal continues. Peanut skins were analyzed as an inexpensive source of phenolic compounds and were encapsulated to produce lipid nanoparticles as a stabilized bioactive feed additives. Storage tests and the development of a rapid spectral method to assess degradation were developed.


4.Accomplishments
1. LED egg candling lights designed and constructed. With high-power incandescent light bulbs no longer being manufactured, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and others requested new egg candling lights for their human egg graders. ARS researchers at Athens, Georgia designed, developed, and built 75 new egg candling lights that utilize low-power, high-intensity white LED lights on lightweight, adjustable, and versatile bench-top stands. These lights incorporate many of the design features requested by the industry and were successfully used to train 60 new graders at the National Egg Quality School in May. These lights complement the portable egg candling lights also developed early by the same research group of which AMS purchased another 35 units this year.

2. Egg grading information management software developed. A software prototype of egg grading information management was developed for professional egg graders. The basic functions of the software are data entry of egg grading results, automatic completion of the grader-specific form, and database management of the entered data. Each component was developed as a separate module and a user interface was also developed to facilitate implementation. With the software, an egg grader can create, update, and browse a database of egg grading results.

3. Assessment of encapsulated feed additives by emission spectroscopy. Feed additives that enhance the quality of the poultry meat products are typically unstable chemical structures that degrade and lose bioactivity. Encapsulation with a digestible lipid shell was demonstrated to stabilize additives over time and preserve functionality. A simple spectral test method was developed to detect instability in stored samples. The test requires no sample preparation and is designed for QA/QC applications.

4. Extending shelf life of uncooked chicken breast fillets. Raw poultry meat is susceptible to human pathogens, such as salmonella and campylobacter, and only has a shelf life of around one week. A system that generates ozone gas inside a sealed package of boneless skinless chicken breast filets was developed. The system uses a high voltage electric field to temporarily create ozone gas inside the packaged chicken meat which kills the bacteria on the surface of the meat and can extend the shelf life of the product for an additional week. The ozone gas reverts back to oxygen with 24 hours after treatment and there appears to be no residual effect on the filets, although further testing will be required to confirm.

5. Risk analysis of chiller performance in poultry processing. Contamination of fresh poultry products occurs during processing when process water directly contacts contaminated carcasses. The operating characteristics of unit operations such as the chiller can increase or decrease the likelihood of product contamination. Immersion and air chillers were analyzed to evaluate their performance, the role of process water chemistry, and the effectiveness of antimicrobial treatments, e. g., chlorine and trisodium phosphate. Monte Carlo simulations were used to evaluate the limits of antimicrobial treatments including 50 ppm chlorine and 5% trisodium phosphate (TSP) on the reduction of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter in post-chill poultry.

6. Pennycress seed meal as alternative protein source in poultry feed. The cost of poultry feed remains high and alternatives are needed to replace the traditional corn and soybean seed meals. Pennycress is an emerging energy crop cultivated as a source of seed oil for biodiesel production. The defatted seed meal was investigated as a protein source for poultry feed. The amino acid profile satisfies the nutritional requirements for poultry and could substitute for soybean meal. Proposed feeding trials to evaluate the performance of Pennycress meal are pending.

7. Correlation of laser induced breakdown spectroscopy with poultry meat quality. Physical properties of poultry breast meat, including water holding capacity and pH, were measured on a set of freshly prepared samples. The samples were subsequently freeze-dried and pelletized for analysis by LIBS. Ten spectra were obtained on each sample, and the spectroscopic data was analyzed using chemometrics. Results showed that pH is highly correlated with sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium relative concentrations as measured by LIBS, indicating that mineral nutritional balance in chicken breast is essential to maintaining high quality characteristics. This is an area that has received little attention in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.


Review Publications
Holser, R.A. 2012. Oxidative stability of fatty acids. Fats and Fatty Acids in Poultry Nutrition and Health. p. 85-94.

Holser, R.A. 2012. Principal component analysis of phenolic acid spectra. Spectroscopy. 2012:1-5.

Liu, C., Latona, N.P., Yoon, S.C. 2013. Evaluation of hides, wet blue and leather using airborne ultrasonics. Journal of American Leather Chemists Association. 108(4):128-138.

Holser, R.A. 2013. Lipid encapsulated phenolic compounds by fluidization. Journal of Encapsulation and Adsorption Sciences. 3(1):13-15.

Wang, J., Li, C., Zhuang, H., Zhang, J. 2013. Photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue and inactivation of gram-negative bacteria by TiO2 nanoparticles in aqueous suspension. Food Control. 34(2):372-377.

Zhuang, H., Bowker, B.C., Buhr, R.J., Bourassa, D.V., Kiepper, B.H. 2013. Effects of broiler carcass scalding and chilling methods on quality of early-deboned breast fillets. Poultry Science. 92(5):1393-1399.

Bowker, B.C., Zhuang, H. 2013. Relationship between muscle exudate protein composition and broiler breast meat quality. Poultry Science. 92(5):1385-1392.

Zuckerman, H., Bowker, B.C., Eastridge, J.S., Solomon, M.B. 2013. Microstructure alterations in beef intramuscular connective tissue caused by hydrodynamic pressure processing. Meat Science. 95(3):603-607.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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