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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit » Research » Research Project #429688

Research Project: Assessment and Improvement of Poultry Meat, Egg, and Feed Quality

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

2016 Annual Report

1. Enhance commercial uses of poultry meat and egg quality by understanding intrinsic properties and developing rapid measurement or detection methods. Sub-objective 1A. Identify poultry muscle characteristics that define meat quality. Sub-objective 1B. Develop nondestructive imaging and spectroscopy methods to measure poultry meat and egg quality characteristics and defects. 2. Establish improved poultry meat product quality preservation through new commercial processing methods and innovative packaging technologies. Sub-objective 2A. Enable further processing of poultry meat products through marination processing methods and functional ingredients that enhance quality and sensory attributes. Sub-objective 2B. Develop active packaging materials and treatment systems with antimicrobial properties that preserve quality, extend shelf life, and/or reduce waste. 3. Design new commercial alternative protein feed formulations that improve poultry quality and value. Sub-objective 3A. Identify alternative meal components for poultry feed formulations. Sub-objective 3B. Develop spectroscopic methods to rapidly assess alternative feed meals.

1A: To decipher poultry muscle properties that affect meat quality, changes in meat water holding capacity (WHC) during the first 24 h postmortem and throughout extended storage will be evaluated in broiler breast meat deboned at different times. Samples will be collected for biochemical and structural analyses to determine the mechanisms controlling WHC. The effects of the white striping and wooden breast conditions on breast meat quality, marination, and sensory attributes will be studied. 1B: To develop nondestructive methods to measure poultry meat, trials will be conducted to evaluate spectroscopy and imaging techniques for measuring WHC and breast meat abnormalities. For nondestructive imaging of egg quality, a modified-pressure imaging system will be expanded to grade eggs for abnormal shell texture, blood and meat spots, air-cell depth, and yolk shadow. The system will be redesigned for online operation. 2A: The effects of natural ingredients on the functional, processing, and sensory attributes of further processed poultry meat products with reduced sodium and phosphate contents will be evaluated. 2B: To develop active packaging materials and treatment systems with antimicrobial properties that preserve meat quality and extend shelf life, optimal cold plasma based treatment conditions for microbial reduction, shelf-life extension, and sensory quality retention on different fresh poultry meat products will be identified and validated. Fresh poultry meat packaging types and treatment configurations will also be assessed. 3A: To identify alternative meal components for poultry feeds, industrial oilseed crops will be evaluated. A complete economic analysis will be performed to identify prospective replacements for soybean meal. 3B: To develop spectroscopic methods to rapidly assess alternative feed meals, correlation equations will be developed from the spectral libraries of alternative seed meals to enable on-line measurement. Chemometric methods will be used to classify substrates and provide quality assessments of feed formulations.

Progress Report
Poultry muscle characteristics that control meat quality traits as well as imaging and spectroscopy methods to measure poultry meat quality were investigated. Experiments were conducted to determine the role of deboning time and postmortem aging on muscle protein changes as they relate to water holding capacity (WHC) attributes in broiler breast meat. Experiments were planned and conducted to determine the impact of emerging muscle myopathies (wooden breast and white striping) on the fresh meat quality (visual, WHC, and texture), sensory, and biochemical attributes of broiler breast meat. Trials were planned and conducted to determine the potential for using hyperspectral imaging, visible-near infrared reflectance spectroscopy, optical coherence tomography, Raman spectroscopy, and three-dimensional imaging to identify distinguishing characteristics of breast fillets exhibiting the white striping and wooden breast conditions that could be utilized for further developing rapid, non-destructive methods for sorting fresh poultry based on meat quality defects. To enhance poultry meat product quality and preservation, new commercial processing methods and innovative packaging technologies were investigated. Trials were completed to establish moisture-enhancement procedures (brine injection and vacuum-tumbling marination) and operating parameters for conducting marination ingredient experiments. Sensory and instrumental analyses were performed on poultry meat products incorporated with functional ingredients such as tapioca, egg white, potato starch, and garbonzo flour. Research was completed to evaluate the effects of voltage and time of dielectric barrier discharge plasma treatments on the microbial populations and color of fresh chicken breast fillets. Experiments were planned and conducted to determine the types and quantities of chemical species produced as a result of dielectric barrier discharge plasma treatment of sealed packages of fresh poultry. Results indicate that ozone, hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, and nitrous acid are produced in proportions dependent upon the atmosphere within the packaging. In addition, a mixture of formic, lactic, and acetic acids are produced, regardless of atmosphere composition and are believed to be the byproducts of plasma degradation of the polyethylene packaging. The phenomenon of package breakdown will be further explored as a mechanism for release of antimicrobial compounds from the packaging materials. Experiments were planned and conducted to determine the meat quality effects of eliminating carcass chilling steps prior to thermal processing in the production of cooked chicken products. In collaboration, trials were completed to determine the effects of various bird stunning methodologies (electrical stunning, low-atmosphere pressure stunning) on poultry meat and carcass quality. External egg grading attributes were added to a hairline crack detection system developed earlier. The system enhances the shell shape and texture features with both a glancing light system and a new LED case light. Software to automatically detect shell features including shape, stains, and dirt was also developed.

1. Development of antimicrobial packaging system for raw poultry meat products. The microbiological shelf-life of fresh poultry meat is typically less than 7 days at refrigerated temperatures. This short shelf-life results in millions of pounds of food waste annually. ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, have developed a novel antimicrobial packaging system for extending shelf-life in fresh poultry meat. Their work has shown that post-packaging ozone treatments can significantly reduce spoilage microbial populations and extend product shelf-life as well as decrease foodborne pathogens on raw chicken breast meat.

2. Development of an objective method for detecting poultry meat quality defect. The wooden breast condition is an emerging meat quality defect that occurs in chicken breast meat. The current method of detection and product sorting is based on subjective evaluation by manually handling the breast meat. ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, have demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing 3D imaging technology to objectively detect chicken breast fillets exhibiting the wooden breast condition. This will allow the development of a rapid, non-destructive imaging system for objectively identifying this quality defect and facilitate product segregation.

3. Use of natural functional ingredients to enhance quality and sensory attributes of chicken breast meat. Consumers are increasingly looking for healthier food attributes and clean labels during food purchase. ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, found that the natural ingredients tapioca and potato starch can be used to enhance chicken breast meat water-holding capacity, tenderness, and sensory quality. These findings suggest that natural ingredients can be used to replace salt and phosphate in poultry meat products which will contribute to cleaner labels and healthier products.

4. Identified key factor determining functionality of chicken breast meat with the white striping defect. White striping is an emerging quality defect in chicken breast meat that adversely influences the appearance of fresh breast fillets and diminishes their suitability for use in further-processed meat products due to having inferior water-binding attributes. ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, have demonstrated that the negative influence of the white striping defect on water-binding and processing quality is not uniform throughout the affected muscle and is primarily located on the skin-side surface of the breast fillets. These findings suggest that sample portioning, which is commonly used throughout the poultry processing industry, may be used to remove the most affected area and retain much of the value of the breast fillet.

5. Developed modified poultry carcass processing strategy. Chicken carcasses used in fully cooked meat products are typically chilled as whole carcasses by immersion in cold water chill tanks and then cut into parts prior to cooking. Immersion chilling can cause bacterial cross-contamination between carcasses and increases processing time and energy inputs. ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, demonstrated that whole chicken carcasses can be cooked immediately after slaughter and evisceration with no adverse effects on final product texture quality or yield. Cooking carcasses without prior chilling reduces processing time, decreases energy and water usage, and eliminates a potential source of carcass cross-contamination.


Review Publications
Zhuang, H., Wang, J., Zhang, J. 2016. Inactivation of spoilage bacteria in package by dielectric barrier discharge atmospheric cold plasma - treatment time effects. Food and Bioprocess Technology. ISSN 1935-5130 Food Bioprocess Technol. doi: 10.1007/s11947-016-1746-6.