The effect of repeated freeze-thaw cycles on the meat quality of rabbit

Zhaoming Wang, Z. He, Hongjun Li

Abstract

We investigated the effect of repeated freeze-thaw cycles on the quality of rabbit meat. Twenty-five Hyla rabbits were slaughtered using standard commercial procedures. A freeze-thaw procedure—i.e., seven days frozen at –18°C followed by thawing at 4°C for 12h— was repeated 5 times, and 9 Longissimus thoracis et lumborum muscles were randomly selected at pre-set cycles (0, 1, 2, 3, and 5). The Longissimus lumborum muscles were used to determine meat quality parameters, while the Longissimus thoracis muscles were used for chemical analysis. During the repeated freeze-thaw process, muscle pH, redness, hardness, and water holding capacity gradually decreased, whereas meat lightness and yellowness gradually increased. The amount of total volatile basic nitrogen significantly increased (P<0.05) and exceeded the threshold value for frozen meat after 5 repeated freeze-thaw cycles. The metmyoglobin proportion, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) and protein carbonyl content in rabbit meat samples increased with a higher number of freeze-thaw cycles (P<0.05), and the proportions of these compounds were positively correlated. During the repeated freeze-thaw process, extractable haeme iron levels significantly decreased (P<0.05), and non-haeme iron levels markedly increased (P<0.05). An sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis indicated that the degradation of both water- and salt-soluble proteins was more prevalent in samples subjected to higher numbers of freeze-thaw cycles. Additionally, a principal component analysis identified good correlations between physicochemical properties (TBARS, protein carbonyl levels and metmyoglobin content) and quality parameters (thawing loss, redness, lightness and hardness). Taken together, we conclude that the repeated freeze-thaw process can strongly affect rabbit meat quality as well as its physicochemical properties.


Keywords

rabbit; freeze-thaw cycles; meat quality; myoglobin oxidation; lipid oxidation; protein oxidation

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References

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