A Technique for Predicting Water-Holding Capacity in Early Postmortem Muscle

Purdue University 2002 Swine Research Report. Water-holding capacity is the ability of muscle to retain naturally occurring moisture. Current methods used to estimate water-holding capacity of postmortem (PM) muscle by means of measuring drip loss are time-consuming (Offer and Trinick, 1983). Some methods to predict water-holding capacity use gravity, centrifugation, and other external and capillary forces (Honikel, 1998; Rasmussen and Andersson, 1996; Warriss, 2000; Hamm, 1986). Gravitational techniques include the hanging bag method proposed by Honikel (1998) and the Danish drip tube method developed by Rasmussen and Andersson (1996). Both of these methods require that muscle samples be removed at 24 h PM and allowed to drip for a given period of time, typically 24 h. Alternatively, centrifugation methods subject meat samples to centrifugal force involving high speeds and gravitational forces. This artificially-induced force results in a supernatant decanted as exudate. The muscle sample is weighed before and after centrifugation to determine the amount of moisture lost and the corresponding water-holding capacity can be predicted (Hamm, 1986; Warriss, 2000). In addition to the cost of equipment that may be needed, each of these methods is tedious and cumbersome. Therefore, the objective of this study was to develop a rapid, relatively inexpensive technique for predicting water-holding capacity early postmortem.