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Poult Sci. 2004 Dec;83(12):2086-92.

Color variation and characterization of broiler breast meat during processing in Italy.

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Department of Food Science, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, 47023 Cesena (FC), Italy.


The variation in broiler breast meat color (CIE values L*a*b*) that normally occurs during processing was evaluated on 6,997 broiler breast fillets (pectoralis major muscles) from 79 flocks using a Minolta Chroma Meter. The samples were randomly collected at 3 to 6 h postmortem from the deboning line at a single major Italian processing plant. In addition, 216 fillets were selected based on lightness (L*) values as being dark (L* < 50), normal (50 < or = L* < or = 56), or pale (L* > 56), and were analyzed for ultimate pH, intact and ground meat cooking loss, and shear value. The overall range in measured lightness (L*) was considerable and varied from 40 (dark) to 66 (pale), indicating that high breast meat color variation during processing could exist. Broiler breast meat during summer was found to be paler (+1.7 L* unit), less red (-1.0 a* unit), and less yellow (-0.7 b* unit) than breast meat samples collected during the winter, confirming that the incidence of pale meat is greater during summer as indicated by nonscientific observations of plant personnel. It was also determined that paler (L* > 56) breast meat is associated with lower ultimate pH and poorer water-holding capacity, whereas darker (L* < 50) breast meat is associated with higher muscle pH and cooking yield.

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