The objective of this study was to examine the effect of early postmortem protein oxidation on the color and tenderness of beef steaks. To obtain a range of oxidation levels, the longissimus lumborum muscles (LM) from both strip loins of 20 steers fed either a finishing diet with vitamin E (1,000 IU per steer daily, minimum of 126 d [VITE]; n = 10 steers) or fed the same finishing diet without vitamin E (CON; n = 10 steers) were used. Within 24 h after slaughter, the LM muscle from each carcass was cut into 2.54-cm-thick steaks and individually vacuum packaged. Steaks from each steer were assigned to a nonirradiated group or an irradiated group. Steaks were irradiated within 26 h postmortem, and were aged at 4°C for 0, 1, 3, 7, and 14 d after irradiation. Steaks from each diet/irradiation/aging time treatment were used to determine color, shear force, and degree of protein oxidation (carbonyl content). Steaks from steers fed the VITE diet had higher (P < 0.01) α-tocopherol contents than steaks from steers fed the CON diet. Immediately following irradiation, steaks that had been irradiated had lower (P < 0.05) L* values regardless of diet. Irradiated steaks, regardless of diet, had lower a* (P < 0.05) and b* (P < 0.01) values than nonirradiated steaks at all aging times. Carbonyl concentration was higher (P < 0.05) in proteins from irradiated steaks compared to nonirradiated steaks at 0, 1, 3, and 7 d postirradiation. Immunoblot analysis showed that vitamin E supplementation decreased the number and extent of oxidized sarcoplasmic proteins. Protein carbonyl content was positively correlated with Warner-Bratzler shear force values. These results indicate that increased oxidation of muscle proteins early postmortem could have negative effects on fresh meat color and tenderness.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/steven_lonergan/71/