Extending lamb colour
The appearance of meat is of primary importance for consumers who 'buy by eye'. One of the main components of physical appearance is colour, which the consumer uses as an indicator for the quality and freshness of the product.
New Zealand has transformed frozen lamb, beef and venison export commodities into higher value chilled products. The changes offer several advantages such as the superior tenderness of chilled meat due to the extended ageing period provided by transport time. However, occasional quality issues can arise such as inferior colour stability. Colour stability of meat stored for an extended period has not been studied before to any large extent. The Meat Science & Technology team is currently researching this area.
The initial research made possible by the AgResearch Research and Capability fund showed that the colour stability of chilled lamb was not affected by the processing conditions (electrical stimulation or pre rigor temperature) unless the pre rigor temperature was very high. In contrast, an increase in the storage temperature from the ideal temperature of -1.5°C to 2°C significantly decreased the colour stability of the meat during retail display.
The research highlights the issue of variability in lamb colour stability, and will benchmark the colour stability and its variability of NZ chilled lamb at different storage times. It will also investigate the inherent properties (such as pH, metmyoglobin reducing activity, and oxygen consumption rate) that control colour stability and its variability.
The research is currently funded by the Meat Industry Research fund.