Effects of pH Early Postmortem on Meat Quality in Beef Longissimus

  • Hwang, I.H. (Co-operative Research Centre for the Cattle and Beef Industries, University of New England) ;
  • Tompson, J.M. (Co-operative Research Centre for the Cattle and Beef Industries, University of New England)
  • Received : 2002.04.30
  • Accepted : 2003.04.23
  • Published : 2003.08.01


The effects of type (high and low voltages) and time (3, 40 and 60 min postmortem) of stimulation on drip loss and meat color at 24 h post-mortem were determined on M. longissimus dorsi of 38 crossbred steers and heifers. In addition, the effect of pH early postmortem (70 min postmortem) on the rate and extend of meat tenderization was examined. Either high or low voltage stimulation at 3 min showed a tendency for faster pH decline (p=0.052) and higher drip loss (p=0.08), and improved the color dimensions of L*, a* and b* (p<0.01), compared to stimulation at 40 min. This was equivalent to approximately one unit of an AUSMEAT color chip. On the other hand, although there were significant differences in pH decline between high voltage stimulation at 40 and 60 min, and between low voltage stimulation at 40 min and control sides, drip loss and meat color did not differ significantly (p>0.05). The results suggested that early application of stimulation, regardless of type of stimulation, improved overall meat color at 24 h postmortem through its effect on faster glycolysing rate. However, if the pH decline was moderate, the benefit of electrical stimulation on meat color was not apparent. An intermediate pH decline resulted in the lowest shear force. Due to differential ageing rates the optimum pH at 70 min postmortem increased with ageing time from 5.96, 6.07, 6.12 and 6.14 for 1, 3, 7 and 14 days postmortem, respectively. This implied that a small difference in the rate of pH decline was important, especially carcasses stimulated for very early postmortem, and the optimum rate of pH decline varied with intended ageing period. The study suggests that the beneficial or adverse effects of electrical stimulation on drip loss, meat color and tenderness is determined by the rate of pH decline, rather than by stimulation treatment and time of application per se.


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