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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Red Discoloration of Fully Cooked Poultry Meat

item Smith, Douglas
item Northcutt, Julie

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/3/2008
Publication Date: 6/30/2008
Citation: Smith, D.P., Northcutt, J.K. 2008. Red Discoloration of Fully Cooked Poultry Meat. 23rd World's Poultry Congress Meeting Abstract, p. 327

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Red or bloody appearance of fully cooked poultry meat is a quality defect perceived as a food safety issue. Experiments were conducted to determine incidence rate, cause, and control methods for red discoloration. Breasts, thighs, and legs from four commercial products were evaluated for red discoloration (n=274), with approximately 11% discolored and 0.4% bloody. Redness (a*) was more prevalent in dark meat than breast; less discoloration was observed in fried product. In another experiment designed to induce redness in a model system, blood, liquid marrow, or bony marrow (primary spongiosa - PS) from the metaphysis of femurs was homogenized, placed in tubes with chicken meat and cooked. PS produced significant redness, while blood and liquid marrow produced only darkening (lower L*). A PS fraction extracted by centrifugation and dialysis indicated that a water soluble molecule with a molecular weight between 12000 and 25000 daltons produced redness in meat patties. In a third experiment, ingredients (salt/phosphate marinade at 10% w/w, 3% non-fat dry milk, 0.3% citric acid, 0.3% ascorbic acid, or 0.02% EDTA) were added to the meat and PS and cooked to an endpoint temperature of 77 C. Only EDTA and citric acid significantly lowered redness compared to control values, but these values were still much higher than acceptable. Freezing femurs or cooking to a higher endpoint temperature (85 C) alleviated redness somewhat but not darkness.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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