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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

2012 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:
The poultry industry continues to seek innovative techniques and methods to improve product quality and reduce operating costs. To develop technologies that benefit the poultry industry and ultimately consumers, basic and applied research was conducted on 1)improving poultry feed and meat quality,.
2)developing methods for predicting/measuring poultry meat and egg quality, and.
3)understanding key factors controlling poultry meat quality.

To improve product quality, investigations were conducted on a novel feed additive delivery system, poultry processing methods, and meat packaging and post-package treatment technologies. For a feed additive delivery system within a fully digestible capsule, lipid nanoparticles were prepared from an aqueous emulsion to encapsulate phenolic acids. Particle stability was measured by a combination of light scattering and fluorescence spectroscopy. Poultry processing research demonstrated the combined effects of carcass scalding and chilling methods on meat quality of early deboned broiler breast fillets to provide operating parameters for poultry processors. Research was also conducted to determine optimal postmortem time for marinade uptake and product yield in moisture-enhanced chicken breast fillets. For a nanoparticle-based packaging film, antimicrobial activity of a Titanium dioxide-coating under UV light was measured. Also an in-package cold plasma system to improve shelf-life of fresh poultry meat was developed. The operating parameters were established and the effect of the treatment on the microbiological shelf-life and quality characteristics of breast fillets were measured.

For predicting/measuring final product quality, investigations were conducted to develop spectroscopy and mathematical models to measure meat quality, identify protein-based quality markers, and to develop a candling light for measuring egg quality. The high moisture content of meat makes it difficult to measure fresh meat quality characteristics with spectroscopy techniques. So a model with freeze-dried muscle was developed to assess the potential for spectroscopy to measure poultry water-holding capacity. Research was also conducted to develop mathematical models to predict texture quality in fresh breast fillets. Protein and amino acid markers in fresh muscle weep were investigated to determine their usefulness in developing rapid, non-invasive measures of quality and shelf-life. To assist in egg quality evaluation, new portable egg candling lights were developed with cool-white light emitting diodes and operate on both house current and rechargeable batteries.

To understand key factors controlling poultry meat quality, investigations were conducted to characterize muscle tissue and protein changes that occur in broiler breast fillets. Collaborative research was conducted to determine the relationship between muscle fiber characteristics, muscle growth, and meat quality in fast-growing broiler lines. Research was also conducted to determine muscle protein characteristics within breast fillets and to relate muscle protein traits to variations in fresh poultry quality.

1. Developed encapsulated phenolic acids as additives for poultry feed. The poultry industry is seeking alternatives to using antibiotics in feed. ARS scientists have encapsulated phenolic acids within lipid nanoparticles for use as poultry feed additives. Phenolic compounds exhibit antimicrobial activity that could replace antibiotics and the lipid capsule stabilizes the compound and is fully metabolized.

2. Poultry carcass scalding and chilling methods impact meat quality of broiler breast fillets. Poultry carcass scalding and chilling are important processing steps that influence both the safety and quality of fresh poultry meat. ARS scientists demonstrated that scalding method (hard, soft) influenced meat texture and chilling method (air, water) influenced color, moisture, and texture characteristics in early deboned broiler breast fillets. For poultry processors, this research demonstrated that there is no interacting effect between carcass scalding and chilling methods and that scalding methods have a relatively low impact on meat quality characteristics in broiler breast fillets.

3. Postmortem aging does not impact yield and processing variables in marinated broiler breast fillets. Marinade uptake, retention, and final product yield are important parameters for poultry processors in the production of moisture-enhanced poultry products. ARS scientists demonstrated that despite changes in muscle water-holding capacity with aging, broiler breast fillets can be marinated at either 6 or 24 hours postmortem with no detrimental effects on processing variables or final meat quality traits. Thus, poultry processors can marinade breast fillets as early as 6 hours postmortem to improve production efficiency.

4. Identification of protein characteristics in poultry muscle weep related to meat quality. Although meat product quality and consistency are important in the poultry industry, there is not an established non-invasive methodology for predicting/measuring fresh poultry quality. ARS scientists have utilized analytical techniques to identify protein changes in poultry meat weep that are related to meat quality traits. These novel findings are an important step in the development of a rapid, non-invasive technique for measuring meat quality based on protein markers.

5. Characterized muscle tissue traits related to growth rate, breast meat yield, and meat quality in broilers. While selective breeding programs have led to tremendous gains in growth rate and breast meat yield in commercial broiler lines, inconsistent and inferior meat quality continue to be problematic within the poultry industry and the mechanisms that influence meat quality in fast-growing broilers are not understood. ARS scientists characterized muscle fiber size, muscle fiber type, and indicators of muscle fiber degeneration during the grow-out period of commercial broilers with enhanced breast meat yield. These data represent an initial step in understanding the relationship between growth rate and meat quality in commercial broilers.

Review Publications
Holser, R.A. 2011. Water chemistry and antimicrobial treatment in poultry processing. Journal of Food Safety. 13:339-341.

Holser, R.A., Hawkins, S.A. 2011. Measurement of lipid supplements in poultry feed by infrared spectroscopy. International Journal of Poultry Science. 10(9):677-679.

Zhuang, H., Savage, E.M. 2012. Postmortem aging and freezing and thawing storage enhance ability of early deboned chicken pectoralis major muscle to hold added salt water. Poultry Science. 91(5):1203-1209.

Zhuang, H., Savage, E.M. 2012. Effects of fillet weight on sensory descriptive flavor and texture profiles of broiler breast meat. Poultry Science. 91(7):1695-1702.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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