Meat And Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation of muscle from slaughtered animals hastens the process of rigor mortis. It does this through an initial pH fall that is then followed by a change in the rate of pH fall. The combined effect is that the muscles enter rigor mortis before the temperature falls sufficiently to result in cold shortening and toughening as a result of rapid chilling that may occur in present-day commercial situations. Electrical stimulation can be applied early post-slaughter, in which cases relatively low voltages are effective as they operate via the nervous system. However, as the delay increases before stimulation, high voltages are then required. The applied electrical parameters generally used must consider the appropriate waveform and pulse frequency, duration, the prestimulation delay, the chilling rate, and the type of species involved. While electrical stimulation ensures that cold shortening is avoided, aging also starts at a high temperatures and is consequently more rapid. However, evidence suggests that other mechanism for tenderization are also taking place. Electrical stimulation must be considered as part of a total process from slaughter through chilling to final sale, considering electrical inputs and rates of pH fall and temperature fall to optimize tenderness and juiciness. Electrical stimulation has particular advantages for hot boning where the shortening and hence toughening conditions for unstimulated muscles are normally exacerbated by the improved chilling. When the stimulation conditions and chilling rates are timed, hot boned meat is as tender as normal cold boned meat, and there can be significant improvements in other meat quality attributes such as drip and color.

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