US scientists have reported that the quality of early-deboned chicken differs between broiler strains.
Researchers conducted by the University of Arkansas and Auburn University showed that cooked breast meat – deboned two hours after slaughter – differed significantly in tenderness between five common commercial broiler strains.
Increasing consumer demand for boneless chicken breast meat is forcing processors to shorten the aging time for broiler carcasses before further processing, such as deboning. However, removing muscle from the bone before normal post-mortem physiological processes are complete can result in loss of tenderness and cooking yield.
The researchers slaughtered a total of 1,040 broilers aged 6-7 weeks of age from five common commercial broiler strains. The strains differed in growth rate and body weight at slaughter. The carcasses were deboned at either two-hours (early deboned) or four hours (traditionally deboned). Breast meat samples were subjected to various measurements, including yield, drip-loss, cooking yield, and tenderness.
The researchers reported that breast meat yield for the early deboned carcasses differed significantly between the strains. However, growth rate had no impact on breast meat yield. Drip-loss and cooking loss also differed between the strains. The heaviest weight strains appeared to have the greatest losses compared to the lightest strain. Likewise, the breast meat deboned early from the lightest-strain broilers was significantly more tender than the breast meat from the heaviest strains of broilers.
The researchers concluded: “The increasingly common practice of early deboning may affect meat quality, especially meat tenderness, of broiler strains differently, resulting in greater variation within the industry.”