July 22, 2020

Tuesday's Recap: Meat Science and Muscle Biology Symposium I

Meat Science and Muscle Biology Symposium I

By Lauren Soranno

            The Meat Science and Muscle Biology Symposium that took place on Tuesday, July 21st at the ASAS-CSAS-WSASAS Annual Virtual Meeting invited speakers to discuss various meat quality defects in the broiler meat industry along with mitigation strategies. Dr. Casey M. Owens, a professor at the University of Arkansas, and Dr. Ashunti Ria Jackson, a product testing analyst at Cobb-Vantress, Inc., had a joint presentation about various muscle myopathies in the broiler meat industry. While the broiler industry has succeeded in increasing breast meat yield and growth rate, these improvements have led to wooden breast, white striping, and spaghetti breast meat quality defects. Dr. Owens and Dr. Jackson stressed the importance of developing mitigation strategies focused on genetic programs to improve meat quality without decreasing the overall yield.

            Next, Dr. Jessica D. Starkey, an assistant professor at Auburn University discussed wooden breast myopathy more in depth, focusing on skeletal muscle satellite cells (MSC). While MSC play a critical role in skeletal muscle growth, repair, and maintenance, their role in wooden breast myopathy is not well known. Through in vivo cell labeling, cryohistology, and immunofluorescence techniques, Dr. Starkey concluded that wooden breast-affected muscle has more collagen, more macrophages, and an increased total number of MSC. The next step would be to further investigate the role of these MSC in the development of wooden breast myopathy and determine if it is an issue with the cells themselves or their environment.

            After a short break, Dr. Alexander M. Stelzleni, a professor at the University of Georgia continued the symposium by presenting on how chicken breast with various muscle myopathies can be utilized in processed meat products. The broiler meat industry has lost millions of dollars due to the decreased organoleptic and rheological properties associated with wooden breast and white striping. Dr. Stelzleni discussed how some of this lost value may be recovered through further processing of the meat to improve the textural properties. Further research needs to be conducted to investigate more ways the afflicted meat can be further processed to halt negative consumer perceptions and regain value.

            To conclude the symposium, Dr. Andy King, a research food technologist at the USDA-ARS-US Meat Animal Research Center, delved into a different meat quality defect, the Halo condition, which is a color defect characterized by pale tissue in the superficial portion of ham muscles. To characterize this condition further, Dr. King explained how Halo-affected tissue exhibits lower myoglobin concentration, a higher proportion of white muscle fibers, and much greater lightness compared with normal tissue deeper in the muscle. There is great variation in the size of the portion of the muscle affected, with substantial impact from the sire. With this understanding, genetic selection may be a way to mitigate the Halo condition, such as by selecting for increased myoglobin. Overall, the Meat Science and Muscle Biology Symposium addressed and characterized different meat quality defects with potential strategies to mitigate these conditions and improve their value.