Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #335597

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

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Title: Emerging meat quality defects in the broiler industry

item Bowker, Brian

Submitted to: WATT Poultry USA
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2016
Publication Date: 10/27/2016
Citation: Bowker, B.C. 2016. Emerging Meat Quality Defects in the Broiler Industry. WATT Poultry USA.

Interpretive Summary: The white striping (WS) and woody breast (WB) myopathies that have recently been documented in broiler breast meat are a major concern to the poultry industry. These conditions significantly diminish the fresh meat quality and functionality of broiler breast meat by increasing the fat and connective tissue content and decreasing the protein content of the muscle. Although these conditions are closely associated with the fast growth rates and large sizes of modern broilers, the underlying causes of these conditions are currently unknown and the subject of much research.

Technical Abstract: In the poultry industry, meat quality defects such as white striping (WS) and woody breast (WB) are increasingly being observed. Breast fillets exhibiting these myopathies, have inferior fresh meat quality attributes and reduced functional properties important in further processed meat products. This article summarizes what is currently known about the WS and WB conditions with regards to their potential causes and impact on meat composition and quality. As the WS and WB conditions seem to be closely linked to economically important live production and carcass yield traits, these meat quality defects pose a substantial challenge to the poultry industry. Although research suggests that slower broiler growth rates or decreased slaughter weights and ages may lessen the occurrence and severity of WS and WB, such trade-offs would be detrimental to the overall production and processing efficiency of the industry. Although much has been learned about the WS and WB defects over the last few years, more research is needed. Much of the research to date has focused on describing the changes that occur at the muscle tissue level and their implications on meat quality, composition, and processing functionality. As researchers have learned more about the distinguishing attributes of the WB and WS conditions, more efforts are being made to identify biomarkers for these myopathies in live birds and to develop technologies that can be used by the processing industry to more effectively manage the problem through online meat quality assessment and product segregation. As research efforts shift from characterizing these myopathies to searching for the underlying causes, hopefully viable nutritional and genetic strategies can be developed to reduce the occurrence of the WS and WB defects while still maintaining fast growth rates, feed efficiency, and high meat yields.