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Proteolytic enzymes limited as predictors of beef, pork quality.

The calpain enzyme system plays a role in the tenderization of meat. This endogenous protease system consists of calpain, m-calpain and the inhibitor calpastatin. Early post-mortem measurements of calpain and calpastatin activity at the National Food Centre (Teagasc, Meat Technology Department, Dunsinea, Castleknock, Dublin 15, Ireland) may provide useful information on the ultimate quality of beef and pork.

Researchers found that components of the calpain system influence quality attributes in both beef and pork. However, the use of these components alone as indicators of meat quality may be limited. It is possible that combining these measurements with other potential indicators of meat quality will provide a more robust prediction of ultimate meat quality.

Early post-mortem activity of the calpain system correlated with quality attributes in both pork and beef. However, the activity of these components alone does not provide enough information about ultimate eating quality. Hence these measurements alone would be unsuitable as indicators of meat quality.

In tests, 50 cattle and 48 pigs were slaughtered conventionally. Drip loss was recorded in all samples. Warner Bratzler (WB) shear force measurements and sensory analysis were carried out at 2 days, 7 days and 14 days in beef and at 1 day, 3 days and 7 days in pork. Samples with extreme WB values (14 days pork and 14 days beef) were analyzed for calpain and calpastatin activities. Investigators correlated the results with meat quality attributes.

In beef, the activity of both calpain I and II at six hours post-mortem significantly correlated with the percentage of drip loss. At 24 hours, the activity of calpain II significantly correlated with WB values. None of these correlations were evident in pork. However, calpain I activity at 1 hour significantly correlated with pork tenderness, texture and chewiness at 7 days as determined by sensory panelists. Calpastatin activity also significantly correlated to pork texture.

Further information. A.M. Mullen; phone: +353 1 805 9500; fax: +353 1 805 9550;
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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