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Abstract

Providing consistently high-eating-quality meat products to consumers is crucial for the meat industry. Inconsistent meat tenderness has been identified as one of the major quality-related challenges for the meat industry. Thus, development of a precise and consistent method to predict meat tenderness will greatly benefit the meat industry by enabling it to ensure a constant high-quality meat supply to consumers. A novel noninvasive anisotropic image scanning technology has been recently developed to evaluate and predict microstructural and physicochemical changes in muscle. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the novel anisotropic imaging system in assessing meat tenderness during postmortem aging periods. In this study, loins (Musculus longissimus lumborum) from one side of three beef carcasses were removed at 1-day postmortem. Beef samples were divided into four equal sections, and four aging times (7, 14, 21, and 28 days) were randomly assigned to each section. Two steaks were collected from each section; one steak was used for meat tenderness measurement (using the Warner-Bratzler shear force—WBSF) after each assigned aging time. The other steak was scanned using the anisotropic imaging system to analyze the muscle structural change. The results showed that as the aging period increased, both the WBSF and reflectance results decreased (p < 0.05), indicating an improvement in meat tenderness with aging. Furthermore, the WBSF and reflectance results showed a strong correlation with an r2 value of 0.995 (p = 0.003). This result suggests that the scattering anisotropy imaging method can be used as a viable noninvasive prediction tool for determining the extent of meat tenderization.

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