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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326552

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

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Title: Water holding capacity in poultry breast meat.

item Bowker, Brian
item Zhuang, Hong

Submitted to: Midwest Poultry Federation Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/12/2016
Publication Date: 3/15/2016
Citation: Bowker, B.C., Zhuang, H. 2016. Water holding capacity in poultry breast meat.. Midwest Poultry Federation Proceedings. Proceedings of the 45th Midwest Poultry Federation Convetion. March 15-17,2016.

Interpretive Summary: In fresh poultry products, inferior water-holding capacity (WHC) results in diminished visual appeal and poor palatability traits for consumers as well as reduced product yields for processors. Investigating the underlying mechanisms that control WHC, these studies demonstrated that poor WHC in pale broiler breast fillets is not related to excessive muscle protein denaturation and that WHC fluctuates during the first 24 h postmortem in commercially processed broiler breast meat.

Technical Abstract: The underlying mechanisms that control water-holding capacity (WHC) in pale broiler meat are not well-established. The objectives of the two studies reported here were: 1) to determine the relationship between WHC and protein denaturation in broiler breast meat exhibiting divergent WHC attributes, and 2) to determine changes in WHC and associated physicochemical characteristics in broiler breast meat throughout the first 24 h postmortem. These data demonstrated that WHC in broiler breast meat fluctuates due to underlying structural and biochemical changes occurring in the muscle. During the first 24 h postmortem, the WHC in broiler breast fillets changed in 3 distinct phases. Contrary to what is often assumed, differences in myosin denaturation did not explain variations in WHC in commercially processed broiler breast meat. However, the denaturation of specific sarcoplasmic proteins, such as glycogen phosphorylase, may have had a direct impact on WHC in the breast meat. Based on these results it was hypothesized that sarcoplasmic proteins denature due to postmortem pH and temperature conditions within the meat and precipitate onto myofilaments which alters protein surface interactions with water and lowers WHC in broiler breast meat. Understanding the dynamic nature of WHC and the controlling factors will provide the foundation necessary for developing effective processing strategies to improve final product quality and yield and for developing rapid, non-invasive techniques for predicting WHC in fresh poultry.