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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Optical Detection of Food Safety and Food Defense Hazards

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Title: Influence of Growth Rate on Occurrences of Pale Muscle in Broilers

Authors
item Samuel, Dora
item Billard, Lynn -
item Pringle, Dean -
item Wicker, Louise -

Submitted to: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2011
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Due to an increased demand for portioned and processed poultry products, the focus of poultry breeding has been to increase growth rate of chickens and turkeys. Breast meat yield has increased from approximately 12% to 19% over the past 30 years. The focus of this poultry selection for increased breast yield has been primarily on the reduction of breeding costs while improving production efficiency. The impact of poultry selection on meat quality has been neglected. Poor color and water-holding capacity are frequently reported in modern poultry flocks. Pale muscle among broilers and turkeys ranges as high as 50% in commercial plants, contributing to decreased water-holding capacity at a multi-million annual cost to the poultry industry. The objective of this research was to compare the occurrence of pale broiler breast meat and its effect on quality in two commercial processing plants with different growth rate selections. Breasts from broilers selected for faster growth tend to have lighter color. Weak correlation with water-holding capacity suggests that quality remains the same and light color is probably related to other factors.

Technical Abstract: BACKGROUND: Pale broiler breast meat is a defect in commercial production operations. The incidence of pale broiler breast meat was examined in two commercial processing plants which had average growth rates of 59 g/d and 46 g/d and final average weights of 3.36 kg and 1.93 kg. Color measurements of dorsal and ventral surfaces and pH were completed to evaluate the impact of selection for growth on meat water-holding capacity. RESULTS: L* greater than 60 were observed in 57% of broilers selected for greater yield and 26% of slower growing broilers. Average L* between 10 growers was significantly different (p = 0.001). Pearson’s correlation coefficients for pH and L* were -0.51 and -0.27 for the faster growing broilers and slower growing broilers, respectively. The Pearson correlation coefficients between water-holding capacity and L* and pH was -0.35 and 0.42, respectively. There was a higher correlation between production factors (age, weight, and grower) and a* and b* than L* for ventral surface measurements. CONCLUSION: Breasts from broilers selected for faster growth tend to have lighter color. Weak correlation with water-holding capacity suggests that quality remains the same and light color is probably related to other factors.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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