Efficacy of Carcass Electrical Stimulation in Meat Quality Enhancement: A Review

  • Adeyemi, Kazeem Dauda ;
  • Sazili, Awis Qurni
  • Received : 2013.08.01
  • Accepted : 2013.10.09
  • Published : 2014.03.01


The use of electrical stimulation (ES) as a management tool to improve meat quality and efficiency of meat processing is reviewed. The basis of the efficacy of ES is its ability to fast track postmortem glycolysis, which in turn stimulates myriad histological, physical, biochemical, biophysical and physiological changes in the postmortem muscle. Electrical stimulation hastens the onset and resolution of rigor mortis thereby reducing processing time and labor and plays a vital role in improving meat tenderness and other meat quality traits. However, ES may have negative impacts on some meat quality traits such as color stability and water holding capacity in some animals. Electrical stimulation is not an end in itself. In order to achieve the desired benefits from its application, the technique must be properly used in conjunction with various intricate antemortem, perimortem and postmortem management practices. Despite extensive research on ES, the fundamental mechanisms and the appropriate commercial applications remained obscured. In addition, muscles differ in their response to ES. Thus, elementary knowledge of the various alterations with respect to muscle type is needed in order to optimize the effectiveness of ES in the improvement of meat quality.


Electrical Stimulation;Meat Quality;Tenderness;Postmortem Glycolysis


  1. Bendall, J. R. 1980. The electrical stimulation of carcasses of meat animals. In: Developments in Meat Science (Ed. R. A. Lawrie). Applied Science, Barking, pp. 37-59.
  2. Aalhus, J., S. Jones, D. Best, W. Robertson, and S. Lutz. 1994. The efficacy of high and low voltage electrical stimulation under different chilling regimes. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 74:433-442.
  3. Babiker, S. and R. Lawrie 1983. Post-mortem electrical stimulation and high temperature ageing of hot-deboned beef. Meat Sci. 8:1-20.
  4. Bendall, J. R., C. C. Ketteridge, and A. R. George. 1976. The electrical stimulation of beef carcasses. J. Sci. Food Agric. 27:1123-1131.
  5. Birkhold, S. and A. Sams. 1993. Fragmentation, tenderness, and post-mortem metabolism of early-harvested broiler breast fillets from carcasses treated with electrical stimulation and muscle tensioning. Poult. Sci. 72:577-582.
  6. Botha, S., S. van Schalkwyk, S. Cloete, and L. Hoffman. 2009. Effect of bleeding method and low voltage electrical stimulation on meat quality of ostriches. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci. 39:206-213.
  7. Bouton, P., A. Ford, P. Harris, and F. Shaw. 1980. Electrical stimulation of beef sides. Meat Sci. 4:145-155.
  8. Buege, D. and B. Marsh. 1975. Mitochondrial calcium and postmortem muscle shortening. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 65:478-482.
  9. Butler, J., G. Smith, J. Savell, and C.Vanderzant. 1981. Bacterial growth in ground beef prepared from electrically stimulated and non-stimulated muscles. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 41(4): 915-918.
  10. Cetin, O. and T. Topcu. 2009. Effects of electrical stimulation on meat quality in goat carcasses. J. Food. Agric. Environ. 7 (3-4), 101-105.
  11. Bryne, C., D. Troy, and D. Buckley. 2000. Postmortem changes in muscle electrical properties of bovine m. longissimus dorsi and their relationship to meat quality attributes and pH fall. Meat Sci. 54:23-34.
  12. Castaneda, M., E. Hirschler, and A. Sams. 2005. Research note: Functionality of electrically stimulated broiler breast meat. Poult. Sci. 84:479-481.
  13. Castigliego, I., A. Armani, and A. Guidi. 2012. Meat color. In: Handbook of Meat and Meat Processing. 2nd ed. (Ed. Y. H. Hui) CRC. pp. 81-92.
  14. Chrystall, B. and C. Devine. 1985. Electrical stimulation: Its early development in New Zealand. Adv. Meat Res. Springer. pp. 73-119.
  15. Craig, E., D. Fletcher, and P. Papinaho. 1999. The effects of ante-mortem electrical stunning and postmortem electrical stimulation on biochemical and textural properties of broiler breast meat. Poult. Sci. 78:490-494.
  16. Cross, H. 1979. Effects of electrical stimulation on meat tissue and muscle properties-a review. J. Food Sci. 44:509-514.
  17. Davel, M., M. Bosman, and E. Webb. 2003. Effect of electrical stimulation of carcasses from Dorper sheep with two permanent incisors on the consumer acceptance of mutton. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci. 33:206-212.
  18. Davey, C. L. and K. V. Gilbert. 1975. Cold shortening capacity and beef muscle growth. J. Sci. Food Agric. 26:755-760.
  19. den Hertog-Meischke, M., F. Smulders, J. Van Logtestijn, and F. Van Knapen. 1997. The effect of electrical stimulation on the water-holding, capacity and protein denaturation of two bovine muscles. J. Anim. Sci. 75:118-124.
  20. Dutson, T. R., J. W. Savell, and G. C. Smith. 1982. Electrical stimulation of ante-mortem stressed beef. Meat Sci. 6:159-162.
  21. Devine, C. E., S. Ellery, and S. Averill.1984. Responses of different types of ox muscle to electrical stimulation. Meat Sci. 10:35-51.
  22. Ducastaing, A., C. Valin, J. Schollmeyer, and R. Cross. 1985. Effects of electrical stimulation on post-mortem changes in the activities of two Ca dependent neutral proteinases and their inhibitor in beef muscle. Meat Sci. 15:193-202.
  23. Dutson, T. R., G. C. Smith, and Z. Carpenter. 1980. Lysosomal enzyme distribution in electrically stimulated ovine muscle. J. Food Sci. 45:1097-1098.
  24. Elgasim, E., W. Kennick, L. McGill, D. Rock, and A. Soeldner. 1981. Effects of electrical stimulation and delayed chilling of beef carcasses on carcass and meat characteristics. J. Food Sci. 46:340-343.
  25. Ferguson, D. M., S. Jiang, H. Hearnshaw, S. R. Rymill, and J. M. Thompson. 2000. Effect of electrical stimulation on protease activity and tenderness of m. longissimus from cattle with different proportions of Bos indicus content. Meat Sci. 55: 265-272.
  26. George, A., J. Bendall, and R. Jones. 1980. The tenderizing effect of electrical stimulation of beef carcasses. Meat Sci. 4:51-68.
  27. Gigiel, A. J. and S. J. James. 1984. Electrical stimulation and ultra-rapid chilling of pork. Meat Sci. 11:1-12.
  28. Guerrero, O., M. Vilca, and D. Ramos. 2004. Estimulacion electrica de canales de alpacas para mejorar su calidad organoleptica. Rev. Invest. Vet. Peru. 15:151-156.
  29. Harsham, A. and F. E. Deatherage. 1951. Tenderization of meat. U.S. Patent 2544681.
  30. Honikel, K., P. Roncales, and R. Hamm. 1983. The influence of temperature on shortening and rigor onset in beef muscle. Meat Sci. 8:221-241.
  31. Hector, D. A., C. Brew-Graves, N. Hassen, and D. A. Ledward. 1992. Relationship between myosin denaturation and the colour of low-voltage-electrically-stimulated beef. Meat Sci. 31:299-307.
  32. Hedrick, H., E. Aberle, J. Forrest, M. Judge, and R. Merkel. 1994. Properties of fresh meat. Principles of Meat Science. Kendall Hunt. pp. 3-289.
  33. Henderson, D., D. E. Goll, and M. Stromer. 1970. A comparison of shortening and Z line degradation in post-mortem bovine, porcine, and rabbit muscle. Am. J. Anat. 128:117-135.
  34. Hwang, I., C. Devine, and D. Hopkins. 2003. The biochemical and physical effects of electrical stimulation on beef and sheep meat tenderness. Meat Sci. 65:677-691.
  35. Hwang, I. and J. Thompson. 2001. The effect of time and type of electrical stimulation on the calpain system and meat tenderness in beef longissimus dorsi muscle. Meat Sci. 58: 135-144.
  36. Jeremiah, L. and A. Martin. 1981. The effect of electrical stimulation on the palatability and consumer acceptance of boneless rib steaks. J. Food Qual. 4:165-173.
  37. Juarez, M., N. Aldai, O. Lopez-Compos, M. Dungan, B. Utarro, and J. Aalhus. 2012. Beef texture and juiciness. In: Handbook of Meat and Meat Processing. 2nd ed. (Ed. Y. H. Hui). CRC. pp. 177-188.
  38. Kang, J. O., H. Kamisoyama, S. Shigemori, I. Hayakawa, and T. Ito. 1991. Effect of electrical stimulation on the rheological properties of rabbit skeletal muscle. Meat Sci. 29:203-210.
  39. Kemp, C. M., P. L. Sensky, R. G. Bardsley, P. J. Buttery, and T. Parr. 2010. Tenderness - An enzymatic view. Meat Sci. 84: 248-256.
  40. Kotula, A. and B. Emswiler-Rose. 1981. Bacteriological quality of hot-boned primal cuts from electrically stimulated beef carcasses. J. Food Sci. 46:471-474.
  41. Kerth, C., T. Cain, S. Jackson, C. Ramsey, and M. Miller. 1999. Electrical stimulation effects on tenderness of five muscles from Hampshire x Rambouillet crossbred lambs with the callipyge phenotype. J. Anim. Sci. 77:2951-2955.
  42. Kim, Y., S. Lonergan, J. Grubbs, S. Cruzen, A. Fritchen, A. della Malva, R. Marino, and E. Huff-Lonergan. 2013. Effect of low voltage electrical stimulation on protein and quality changes in bovine muscles during postmortem aging. Meat Sci. 94:289-296.
  43. King, D., K. Voges, D. Hale, D. Waldron, C. Taylor, and J. Savell. 2004. High voltage electrical stimulation enhances muscle tenderness, increases aging response, and improves muscle color from cabrito carcasses. Meat Sci. 68:529-535.
  44. Lawrie, R. and D. A. Ledward. 2006. The storage and preservation of meat: Temperature control. In: Lawrie's Meat Science. 7th ed. Boca Raton New York Washington, DC: CRC. pp. 192-202.
  45. Ledward, D. A., R. F. Dickinson, V. H. Powell, and W. R. Shorthose. 1986. The colour and colour stability of beef longissimus dorsi and semimembranosus muscles after effective electrical stimulation. Meat Sci. 16:245-265.
  46. Locker, R. 1985. Cold-induced toughness of meat. 1. Electrical stimulation. In: Advances in Meat Research. (Ed. A. M. Pearson and T. R. Dutson). The AVI Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 1-44.
  47. Martin, A. H., A. C. Murray, L. E. Jeremiah, and P. J. Dutson. 1983. Electrical stimulation and carcass aging effects on beef carcasses in relation to post-mortem glycolytic rates. J. Anim. Sci. 57:1456-1462.
  48. Morton, H. and R. Newbold. 1982. Pathways of high and low voltage electrical stimulation in sheep carcasses. Meat Sci. 7:285-297.
  49. McKeith, F., G. Smith, J. Savell, T. Dutson, Z. Carpenter, and D. Hammons. 1981. Effects of certain electrical stimulation parameters on quality and palatability of beef. J. Food Sci. 46:13-18.
  50. McKenna, D., D. Maddock, and J. Savell. 2003. Water-holding and color characteristics of beef from electrically stimulated carcasses. J. Muscle Foods 14:33-49.
  51. Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Meat Processor Corporation 2011. Heat toughening -Part 2: Strategies for reducing the incidence of heat toughening in beef carcasses. MLA and AMPC. CSIRO pub. May 2011. pp. 1-4.
  52. Mota-Rojas, D., P. Roldan-Santiago, and I. Guerrero-Legarreta. 2012. Electrical stimulation in meat processing. In: Handbook of Meat and Meat Processing. 2nd ed. (Ed. Y. H. Hui) CRC. pp. 323-329.
  53. Nazli, B., O. Cetin, E. Bingol, T. Kahraman, and O. Ergun. 2010. Effects of high voltage electrical stimulation on meat quality of beef carcasses. J. Anim. Vet. Adv. 9:556-560.
  54. Ockerman, H. and J. Szczawinski. 1983. Effect of electrical stimulation on the microflora of meat. J. Food Sci. 48:1004-1005.
  55. Ockerman, H. and J. Szczawinski. 1984a. Combined effects of electrical stimulation and methods of meat preservation upon the survival of bacteria1. J. Food Process. Preserv. 8:47-56.
  56. Ockerman, H. and J Szczawinski. 1984b. Effect of electrical stimulation of inoculated pork tissue on the thermoresistance of Lactobacillus plantarum, Pseudomonas putrefaciens and Streptococcus faecalis. J. Food Sci. 49:288-289.
  57. Riley, R., J. Savell, G. Smith, and M. Shelton. 1981. Improving appearance and palatability of meat from ram lambs by electrical stimulation. J. Anim. Sci. 52:522-529.
  58. Polidori, P., S. Lee, R. Kauffman, and B. Marsh. 1999. Low voltage electrical stimulation of lamb carcasses: Effects on meat quality. Meat Sci. 53:179-182.
  59. Pospiech E., B. Grzes, A. Lyczynski, K. Borzuta, M. Szalata, and B. Mikolajczak. 2003. Muscle proteins and their changes in the process of meat tenderization. Anim. Sci. Pap. Rep. 21:133-151.
  60. Prandl, O., A. Fischer, T. Schmidhofer, H. Sinell, and J. E. Escobar. 1994. Tecnologia e higiene de la carne. Editorial Acribia. pp. 124-126.
  61. Roeber, D., R. Cannell, K. Belk, J. Tatum, and G. Smith. 2000. Effects of a unique application of electrical stimulation on tenderness, color, and quality attributes of the beef longissimus muscle. J. Anim. Sci. 78:1504-1509.
  62. Sams A. 1999. Commercial implementation of postmortem electrical stimulation. Poult. Sci. 78:290-294.
  63. Savell, J., S. Mueller, and B. Baird. 2005. The chilling of carcasses. Meat Sci. 70:449-459.
  64. Savell, J., G. Smith, T. Dutson, Z. Carpenter, and D. Suter. 1977. Effect of electrical stimulation on palatability of beef, lamb and goat meat. J. Food Sci. 42:702-706.
  65. Sleper, P., M. Hunt, D. Kropf, C. Kastner, and M. Dikeman. 1983. Electrical stimulation effects on myoglobin properties of bovine longissimus muscle. J. Food Sci. 48:479-483.
  66. Simmons, N., C. Daly, T. Cummings, S. Morgan, N. Johnson, and A. Lombard. 2008. Reassessing the principles of electrical stimulation. Meat Sci. 80:110-122.
  67. Takahashi, K. 1992. Non-enzymatic weakening of myofibrillar structures during conditioning of meat: Calcium ions at 0.1 mM and their effect on meat tenderization. Biochimie 74:247-250.
  68. Smith, G. 1985. Effects of electrical stimulation on meat quality, color, grade, heat ring, and palatability. 1. Electrical stimulation. In: Advances in Meat Research (Ed. A. M. Pearson and T. R. Dutson) The AVI Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 121-158.
  69. Soria, L. and P. Corva. 2004. Factores geneticos y ambientales que determinan la terneza de la carne bovina genetic and environmental factors influencing beef tenderness. Archivos Latinoamericanos De Produccion Anim. 12:73-88.
  70. Takahashi, G., S. Wang, J. Lochner, and B. Marsh. 1987. Effects of 2-hz and 60-hz electrical stimulation on the microstructure of beef. Meat Sci. 19:65-76.
  71. Taylor, A. and L. Martoccia. 1995. The effect of low voltage and high voltage electrical stimulation on pork quality. Meat Sci. 39:319-326.
  72. Troy, D. 2006. Hot-boning of meat: A new perspective. In: Advanced Technologies for Meat Processing (Ed. M. Leo, L. Nollet, and T. Fidel). CRC Press. pp. 73-85.
  73. Warriss, P. D. 2010. Meat science: An Introductory Text. 2nd Ed. CABI Publishing, pp. 117-122.
  74. Wiklund, E., J. Stevenson-Barry, S. Duncan, and R. Littlejohn. 2001. Electrical stimulation of red deer (Cervus elaphus) carcasses - effects on rate of pH-decline, meat tenderness, colour stability and water-holding capacity. Meat Sci. 59:211-220.
  75. Yanar, M. and H. Yetim. 2003. The effects of electrical stimulation on the sensory and textural quality properties of mutton carcasses. Turk. J. Vet. Anim. Sci. 27:433-438.
  76. Young, L. L., R. J. Buhr and C. E. Lyon. 1999. Effect of polyphosphate treatment and electrical stimulation on postchill changes in quality of broiler breast meat. Poult. Sci. 78:267-271.
  77. Zywica, R. and J. K. Banach. 2003. The influence of high-voltage electrical stimulation and animals' sex on the selected attributes of quality of cooked beef hams produced from semitendinosus muscle. Food Sci. Technol. 6:1-6.

Cited by

  1. Influence of dietary canola oil and palm oil blend and refrigerated storage on fatty acids, myofibrillar proteins, chemical composition, antioxidant profile and quality attributes of semimembranosus muscle in goats vol.6, pp.1, 2015,
  2. Impact of chill storage on antioxidant status, lipid and protein oxidation, color, drip loss and fatty acids of semimembranosus muscle in goats pp.1947-6345, 2015,
  3. Conditioning vol.41, pp.4, 2016,
  4. Comparison of myofibrillar protein degradation, antioxidant profile, fatty acids, metmyoglobin reducing activity, physicochemical properties and sensory attributes of gluteus medius and infraspinatus muscles in goats vol.58, pp.1, 2016,
  5. Effects of dietary oil blend on fatty acid composition, oxidative stability and physicochemical properties of Longissimus thoracis et lumborum muscle in goats vol.87, pp.11, 2016,
  6. Comparison of carcass and meat quality in goats subjected to preslaughter head-only electrical stunning or slaughtered without stunning pp.1947-6345, 2016,
  7. Influence of carbon dioxide stunning procedure on quality of turkey meat vol.58, pp.4, 2017,
  8. Effect of Post-mortem Electrical Stimulation on Meat Quality of Pesisir Cattle (Indigenous Cattle of West Sumatera) vol.17, pp.9, 2018,
  9. Applied and Emerging Methods for Meat Tenderization: A Comparative Perspective vol.17, pp.4, 2018,
  10. Linear correlation between pH value of stimulated beef and electrical current intensity vol.21, pp.1, 2018,
  11. vol.27, pp.2, 2018,
  12. Effects of electrical stimulation applied in combination with shock chilling method on selected quality attributes of beef from young bulls, heifers, and cows carcasses vol.42, pp.4, 2018,