Processing Preparation and Cooking Effects

Many processing steps are required in the transformation of a live bird to a ready-to-cook, semiprepared (semicooked) or fully prepared (cooked) poultry product. Each processing step is also subjected to variations. Processing variables that have been investigated regarding the flavor of cooked poultry include chilling of eviscerated carcasses, application of phosphates, canning, refrigeration, and frozen storage of raw carcass or cooked meat.

The chilling method has little effect on cooked meat flavor provided that the meat is cooked within a short period after refrigeration or frozen storage. However, air-chilled chicken may not be as stable as immersion-chilled chicken over long storage periods (7). In general, frozen storage extends the storage time to 12 to 14 months without quality deterioration. Thawing and refreezing within a short period has no significant effect; the flavor of cooked meat was not affected when the raw carcass was thawed and frozen five times (8). Commercially processed fresh poultry items are usually distributed and marketed under refrigeration conditions. This short storage period before cooking facilitates the flavor development of cooked meat (9).

The flavor of cooked poultry also depends on the cooking and preparation methods. Flavor characteristics are different among boiled, roasted, and fried chicken, although all these items have similar chickeny flavor. Further-processed poultry products, such as refrigerated, precooked poultry meat, are susceptible to chemical deteriorations and the development of warmed-over flavor during storage. Frozen storage of cooked meats reduces the off-flavor problems to some extent. During chill storage, the flavor intensities of cardboard, warmed-over, and rancid/ painty as well as overall off-flavor characteristics increased in broiler breast and thigh meat but not as much in skin (10). Mechanisms that have been suggested as being responsible for off-flavors include the breakdown of cell membranes during cooking and the autoxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids of the membrane materials. Proper packaging and addition of antioxidants such as polyphosphate may retard off-flavor development (11). The stability of cooked, chill-stored poultry meat may also be affected by precooking temperature. Higher initial cooking endpoint temperatures accelerate the oxidative development during subsequent storage of cooked chicken (12,13).

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