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.
Objective 1. Ongoing research focused on understanding the key intrinsic properties of poultry products and developing rapid quality detection methods. Basic research trials were conducted to characterize the distinguishing biochemical, microstructure, and physical properties of poultry muscle tissue that exhibit the breast muscle myopathies known as white striping and woody breast. Applied studies were conducted to determine the influence of woody breast and white striping on the water-holding capacity, texture, and color attributes of raw and cooked broiler breast meat. Collaborative research was conducted to identify compositional and meat quality differences between modern high-yielding and slow-growing broiler genetic lines. Significant advancements were made in the development of an imaging based system for detecting the presence and severity of the woody breast condition in broiler meat at commercial processing line speeds. Mathematical models based on near-infrared and hyperspectral images were developed and assessed for predicting pH, color, water-holding capacity, and tenderness of poultry meat. Dielectric spectroscopy techniques were evaluated for their capacity to detect the woody breast condition in broiler breast meat. A new sensory temporal method was developed and utilized to assess the sensory attributes of further-processed poultry meat products and broiler breast meat with the woody breast condition. Research was conducted to determine the potential for utilizing the prototype egg micro-crack detection system to determine internal egg quality characteristics such as blood spots, meat spots, and air-cell depth. Objective 2. Ongoing research focused on developing novel commercial processing, further-processing, and packaging methods for preserving and enhancing poultry meat product quality and safety. Research was conducted to determine the sensory meat flavor effects of incorporating various natural ingredients (grape pomace, blueberry extract, and peanut skins) into ground chicken products. Trials were conducted to determine the impact of freezing/thawing and muscle sub-sampling on the marination performance of broiler breast meat. Additionally, the effects of muscle myopathies on typical further-meat processing techniques were investigated. The impact of the woody breast condition and fillet portioning on the marination characteristics, cooking performance, and sensory attributes of broiler breast meat were evaluated. Collaborative research was conducted to determine the functional effects of including fruit based ingredients into various products (ground meat patties, marinated breast fillets, and breakfast sausages) made from broiler breast meat with the woody breast condition. Collaborative research was conducted to determine the influence of high pressure processing on the meat quality and protein functionality of packaged broiler breast and thigh meat. Collaborative research was also conducted to determine the meat quality impact of novel broiler carcass processing strategies, such as cooking whole carcasses without prior chilling and chilling carcasses prior to evisceration. Investigations to further develop an atmospheric cold plasma based antimicrobial packaging system for fresh poultry meat and to test the use of nano-metal oxide films to preserve the microbial quality of fresh poultry meat were continued. The optimal ozone treatment conditions for foodborne pathogens (Campylobacter and Salmonella) and spoilage microorganisms were evaluated using response surface methodologies. Analyses of the chemical characteristics of cold plasma under air and modified atmosphere conditions have been determined, along with chemical effects on polyethylene (PE) packaging and poultry exudate. A new nanoparticle (gold-silver core-shell) was developed and evaluated for antimicrobial efficacy against poultry meat spoilage bacterium Pseudomonas and the foodborne pathogen Salmonella.
1. Rapid imaging method for detecting a poultry meat quality defect. The woody breast condition is an emerging quality defect in chicken breast meat that is currently assessed through product handling and a subjective classification system. The current system of evaluation does not allow for adequate detection and product segregation at commercial poultry processing line speeds. ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, have developed a rapid, non-destructive imaging technology to objectively detect the presence and severity of the woody breast condition in chicken breast fillets. They have developed a prototype system that demonstrates the feasibility for online detection of this quality defect at commercial processing line speeds. This system will provide processors a tool that can be used in a commercial setting to rapidly inspect breast fillets and facilitate product segregation, which will lead to fewer customer complaints and improved product uniformity.
2. Antimicrobial packaging system for fresh poultry meat products. Microbial contamination on fresh poultry meat annually results in millions of pounds of lost product due to spoilage and is a leading cause of foodborne illnesses. ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, have developed a cold-plasma based antimicrobial packaging system for chicken breast meat that kills foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. The non-thermal treatment system has also been demonstrated to reduce spoilage bacteria such as Pseudomonas. Their research demonstrates the potential for using a post-packaging treatment system to simultaneously extend shelf life and minimize food safety risks in fresh poultry meat.
3. Product utilization of raw poultry meat with the woody breast condition. Chicken breast meat exhibiting the woody breast condition has abnormal cooked meat texture characteristics and is poorly suited for use as an intact muscle product. Breast meat with this quality defect is often down-graded or even discarded by processors, resulting in substantial financial losses to the industry. ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, demonstrated that the distinct and objectionable texture attributes in cooked chicken breast meat with the woody breast condition are not detectable in ground meat products. These findings demonstrate that processors can recover some of the financial losses associated with this quality defect by redirecting woody breast meat into comminuted meat products.
4. Impact of non-uniform quality defects throughout chicken breast meat. Chicken breast fillets with the white striping and woody breast conditions exhibit inferior fresh meat quality traits, poor marination performance, and reduced meat functionality traits important in further-processed meat products. ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, found that the negative effects of the white striping and woody breast conditions on meat quality, composition, sensory, and processing characteristics were not uniform throughout the breast muscle. Their work demonstrated that the bone-side portions of breast fillets are less severely impacted by these myopathies. These findings indicate that the poultry industry can effectively utilize fillet portioning and product segregation to maximize the value of fillets with these quality defects.
5. Alternative electrical stunning parameters for broiler slaughter. During broiler slaughter, birds electrically stunned with the low voltage systems typically used in the U.S. have the capacity to regain consciousness in the absence of proper bleeding. This has raised concerns about potential problems with animal welfare during the bleeding phase of broiler processing. Although high voltage electrical stunning systems immediately kill the birds, these can be detrimental to meat quality. ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, demonstrated that an alternative electrical stunning method during broiler slaughter was capable of rendering the birds unable to recover consciousness without negatively impacting carcass or meat quality characteristics. These findings suggest that the electrical stunning procedures used in the broiler slaughter industry can be optimized to further enhance humane slaughter practices without compromising final product quality.
6. Novel poultry carcass processing strategy. Water immersion chilling of poultry carcasses requires considerable time and energy inputs and can lead to cross-contamination of carcasses. ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, demonstrated that the immersion chilling step can be eliminated for intact poultry carcasses designated for fully cooked products by cooking the carcasses immediately after first processing steps. It was found that cooking non-chilled intact carcasses did not compromise product yield and actually improved the cooked texture attributes of the breast meat. For poultry products intended for the fully-cooked market, cooking carcasses without prior chilling will better control food-borne pathogens, result in a more tender product, and greatly reduce the energy costs associated with carcass chilling.
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