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New electrical stimulation technologies for sheep carcasses

Shaw, F.D., Baud, S.R., Richards, I., Pethick, D.W., Walker, P.J. and Thompson, J.M. (2005) New electrical stimulation technologies for sheep carcasses. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 45 (5). pp. 575-583.

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High voltage electrical stimulation applied to the lamb carcass at the end of the dressing procedure often leads to an improvement in overall product quality by reducing the incidence of toughness. It would be advantageous if the same results could be consistently achieved with the use of lower, safer, voltages - medium voltage electrical stimulation. Experiments were conducted to determine the effect of medium voltage electrical stimulation applied to wool-on carcasses on meat quality as assessed using the Sheep Meat Eating Quality protocols. A further experiment examined the interaction of electrical stimulation and meat aging time on the consumer acceptance of lamb meat. In the first experiment, 3 treatments: control (non-stimulated), medium voltage electrical stimulation (applied to the wool-on carcass) and high voltage electrical stimulation (applied at the completion of dressing) were examined. Samples of the loin (LTL) and rump (GM) muscles were evaluated by consumers using Sheep Meat Eating Quality protocols. For both muscles, the consumers gave higher scores for tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall acceptability to the stimulated product (P<0.001). There were no statistically significant differences between the 2 stimulation treatments. The second experiment was conducted at a commercial lamb-processing abattoir that had installed a prototype automated electrode system designed to work at chain speed. Lambs received either no stimulation (control), low current medium voltage electrical stimulation (constant current 300 mA peak, 15 Hz, maximum voltage 550 V peak) or high current medium voltage electrical stimulation (constant current 600 mA peak, 15 Hz, maximum voltage 550 V peak) immediately after sticking. Electrical stimulation improved both the objective and sensory (Sheep Meat Eating Quality) eating quality attributes of lamb loin muscle when assessed following 2 days of ageing. When expressed according to consumer satisfaction rating, 30, 37 and 70% of the loins receiving low, high or no electrical stimulation, respectively, were rated as unsatisfactory at 2 days of ageing. At 4 days of ageing no loins from carcasses in the low stimulation treatment were rated by consumers to be unsatisfactory (P<0.05) compared with either non-stimulated (40%) or high-stimulated loins (35%). With respect to the effects of aging meat, electrical stimulation improved the consumer score at 2 days post-stunning by 8.9 and 4.7 points for tenderness and overall liking, respectively. Further linear improvements due to aging were similar for both electrical stimulation and unstimulated products. Under conditions of no electrical stimulation used in this experiment, 10 days aging results in tenderness and overall liking scores greater than 60 and with ES similar scores are achieved in 5 days. Consumer scores over 60 greatly reduce the chance of meat being classified as unsatisfactory.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 2005
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