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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #231368

Research Project: Umbrella Project for Food Safety

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Title: The Effects of Low Atmosphere Stunning and Deboning Time on Broiler Breast Meat Quality


Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/2008
Publication Date: 6/1/2008
Citation: Battula, V., Schilling, M.W., Vizzier-Thaxton, Y., Behrends, J.B., Williams, J.B., Schmidt, T.B. 2008. The Effects of Low Atmosphere Stunning and Deboning Time on Broiler Breast Meat Quality. Poultry Science. 87:1202-1210.

Interpretive Summary: Stunning and slaughter protocols used in chicken processing can impact subsequent meat quality and consumer acceptance. We tested the effects of two stunning methods, electrical stunning and vacuum stunning, and time before deboning on measures of chicken meat quality including color, pH, texture and consumer panel evaluations. Although breast meat from electrically stunned chickens was whiter than breast meat from vacuum stunned chickens, there were few other differences in meat quality and sensory evaluations among the two stunning techniques. Electrical and vacuum stunning methods both provided high-quality breast meat with minimal product differences.

Technical Abstract: A randomized complete block design with 3 replications (n = 432, 72 broilers per treatment) was used to evaluate the effects of electrical (ES) and vacuum stunning (VS) on broiler breast meat quality. Electrical stunning was performed by applying 11.5 V, <0.05 mA, AC to DC current for 3 s for each broiler. Vacuum stunning was accomplished by exposing the birds to a low atmospheric pressure of 597 to 632 mmHg in an airtight decompression chamber. Breast removal was then performed at 0.75, 2, and 4 h postmortem for each stunning method. Color, pH, cook loss, and shear force values were measured on breasts that were removed from the right side of the carcass. Breasts removed from the left side of the carcass were used for consumer acceptability testing. The L* values were lower (P < 0.05) for VS than ES at 4-and 2-h deboning times. On average, 15-min and 24-h postmortem pH values were not different (P > 0.05) for both stunning method and deboning time. Shear force did not differ (P > 0.05) between stunning methods but decreased (P < 0.05) as deboning time increased. On average, no differences (P > 0.05) existed in consumer acceptability (appearance, texture, flavor, overall) among breast meat from ES or VS birds that were deboned at 2 or 4 h. However, consumers could be clustered into 8 groups based on preference and liking of samples regarding overall and texture acceptability. Sixty-five percent of consumers (3 clusters) liked all broiler breast treatments. Within these 3 clusters, some consumers preferred (P < 0.05) 4-h deboned samples over those deboned at 2 h (cluster 7), and other consumers preferred (P < 0.05) those deboned at 2 h over 4-h samples (cluster 6). Data revealed that both stunning methods provided high-quality breast meat with minimal product differences.