Andrzej Sosnicki PIC

Resources Reviewed

Factsheets

Water-Holding Capacity of Fresh Meat

Publish Date: 06/03/2006

Water-holding capacity of fresh meat (ability to retain inherent water) is an important property of fresh meat as it affects both the yield and the quality of the end product. This characteristic can be described in several ways, but in fresh products that have not been extensively processed, it is often described as drip loss or purge. The mechanism by which drip or purge is lost from meat is influenced by both the pH of the tissue and by the amount of space in the muscle cell and particularly the myofibril that exists for water to reside. Numerous factors can affect both the rate and the amount of drip or purge that is obtained from the product. These factors can include how the product is handled and processed (number of cuts made and size of resulting meat pieces, orientation of the cuts with respect to the axis of the muscle cell, rate of temperature decline after harvest, temperature during storage and even the rate of freezing and temperature of frozen storage). Also of extreme importance is the metabolic state of the live animal at the time of harvest. This can be influenced by the genetic make-up of the animal and by the way the animal was handled. Ultimately, characteristics of the muscle in the live animal can have a strong influence on the amount of moisture that is lost from the resulting meat products. In summary, the entire system of live animal production and handling through initial chilling and finally storage and handling of the meat all play significant roles in influencing the amount of moisture that is lost from the product.


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Factsheets

Nutritional influences on pork quality

Publish Date: 06/03/2006

This paper reviews the literature relating to the potential impact of swine nutrition on pork quality attributes. Supra-nutritional levels of vitamin E have been shown to increase muscle vitamin E content and reduce lipid oxidation; however, the impact on muscle color and water holding capacity has been variable. Selenium is also potentially involved in reducing lipid oxidation; there is no evidence, however, that supplying additional selenium above the requirement improves pork quality. Recent research has suggested that the feeding of high levels of vitamin D3 in the final 10 days prior to slaughter improves pork color and reduces drip loss; these results require validation. Feeding ingredients with relatively high levels of unsaturated fatty acids increases the degree of unsaturation of the fat tissue, decrease fat firmness, and can negatively impact fat quality. The potential to produce “healthier” pork by feeding ingredients rich in omega-3 fatty acids and to improve fat firmness by including conjugated linoleic acid in the diet is discussed. There is evidence that restricted feeding of growing-finishing pigs can negatively impact pork tenderness and juiciness. The marbling fat content of pork has been positively associated with eating quality and feeding protein-deficient diets in the final 5 weeks prior to slaughter has been shown to increase marbling. Australian research has suggested that supplementation of diets with magnesium aspartate for 5 days prior to slaughter reduces the incidence of PSE and improves muscle color and water holding capacity. A range of other dietary compounds has been investigated; however, there is limited evidence on which to judge their efficacy for improving pork quality under commercial conditions.


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