Transcript of "Efectos del tiempo de transporte y la temporada en los aspectos de calidad de carne de conejo"
Eﬀects of transport time and season on aspects of rabbit meat quality q
G.A. Marı´a *, T. Buil, G. Liste, M. Villarroel, C. San˜udo, J.L. Olleta
Department of Animal Production and Food Science, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zaragoza, Miguel Servet 177, 50013 Zaragoza, Spain
Received 24 March 2005; received in revised form 18 May 2005; accepted 10 October 2005
The aim of this study was to determine whether transport times of up to 7 h can have a signiﬁcant eﬀect on instrumental meat quality
traits in rabbits. Spain has very hot summers and cold winters; therefore, we performed replicates in two seasons. To evaluate the eﬀect of
transport time and season on rabbit meat quality, we assessed four meat quality parameters: pH, water holding capacity (WHC), texture
(compression and Warner–Bratzler analyses), and colour (CIEL*a*b*). We also considered the eﬀect of the position of the animals on
the transport vehicle. After slaughter, we analysed steaks of Longissimus dorsi from all transported animals (n = 216). Average pH at
24 h and WHC did not diﬀer signiﬁcantly between transport time treatments. Position on the vehicle did not inﬂuence the measures
of meat quality. Transport time had a signiﬁcant eﬀect on all the meat texture parameters measured by compression, but did not aﬀect
shear force or toughness. Transport time inﬂuenced a* but not L* or b*. Transport time had much less of an eﬀect on meat quality than
time of year; therefore the eﬀect of season appeared to be independent of transport time. Position on the vehicle had no eﬀect on meat
quality. Based on our results, we conclude that the transport process can aﬀect instrumental meat quality.
Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Rabbit; Meat quality; Transport time; pH; Colour; Texture
The chain of events involved in transport can induce
stress in rabbits, and aﬀect some aspects of meat quality
(Jolley, 1990). Little is known about the eﬀect of transport
on the texture and colour of rabbit meat. In studies that
consider ante-mortem eﬀects on meat quality, one of the
most commonly measured parameters is ultimate meat
pH. Even travelling short distances can reduce live weight
(shrinkage), decrease glycogen reserves, and increase meat
temperature (Jolley, 1990), although changes in ultimate
pH do not invariably reﬂect these eﬀects. The relationship
between initial muscle glycogen content and ultimate pH is
linear only at very low levels of glycogen (Purchas & Aun-
gsupakorn, 1993). Thus, glycogen concentrations may not
decrease enough to have a substantial eﬀect on ultimate
pH, especially when the animals can recover during lairage.
There are changes in meat texture and colour in response to
ante-mortem stress (Gregory, 1998). Transport time has
been considered one of the critical points aﬀecting animal
welfare during transport from the farm to the abattoir
(Buil, Maria, Villarroel, Liste, & Lopez, 2004). It is unclear
whether journey duration aﬀects meat quality, particularly
in commercial rabbits, for which little information is avail-
able. Transportation can increase the ultimate pH and
darkness of meat (Masoero, Riccioni, Bergoglio, & Napo-
litano, 1992), but can improve meat tenderness (Xiccato,
Paragini-Bini, & Carazzolo, 1994) and enhance the sensory
qualities of rabbit meat by making it more tender and juicy
(Dalle Zotte, 2002). The manner in which transport can
inﬂuence meat quality warrants further investigation. In
this study, we determined whether transport times (either
1 or 7 h) and position on the transport vehicle have a sig-
niﬁcant eﬀect on instrumental meat pH, texture, and colour
in two seasons (summer and winter).
0309-1740/$ - see front matter Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Funded by CICYT Ministry of Science and Technology of Spain.
Project AGL 2002-01346 COTRANS.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 976 762490; fax: +34 976 761612.
E-mail address: email@example.com (G.A. Marı´a).
URL: http://www.unizar.es (G.A. Marı´a).
Meat Science 72 (2006) 773–777
2. Materials and methods
The instrumental meat quality of 216 commercial rab-
bits was assessed (36 animals per treatment). The animals
were transported by road (along with non-target animals),
for 1 or 7 h in either winter or summer. The transportation
study was performed on three days in January–February
(average outside temperature, AOT = 11 °C) and in
June–July (AOT = 28 °C) over three consecutive weeks
(i.e., three replicates for each treatment). Every 5 min, aver-
age temperature during transport was measured using a
thermometer located at the level of the subjects.
Three main eﬀects were considered: transport time, season,
and position on the truck (top, middle or bottom) in a
multi-ﬂoor cage rolling stand (MFRS). The stocking rate
during transport was 360 cm2
per animal (cage
size = 57 · 57 · 25 cm). The overall capacity of the truck
was 2400 rabbits. At midday, following 3 h of lairage time
housed in MFRS, the rabbits were slaughtered. Average
carcass weight (means ± SD) was 1192.50 ± 121 g. Car-
casses were chilled under commercial conditions for 24 h
(average weight after chilling = 1175.26 ± 120 g). The meat
pH was measured at 24 h post-mortem (next day) in the
lumbar region (M. Longissimus dorsi lumborum) using a
Crison 507 electrode. Meat colour was measured using a
MINOLTA portable chromameter (model CR-200b) using
the Commission Internationale de LÕEclairage system.
Measurements were taken from the surface of a slice of
Longissimus dorsi from each animal. Slices were freshly
cut at 24 h post-mortem and measured after 24 h blooming.
Without touching the sample, we placed each slice on indi-
vidual plastic foam trays and wrapped them with an O2-
permeable ﬁlm at 4 °C. The colour was expressed as colour
coordinates L* (lightness), a* (redness), and b* (yellow-
ness). Chroma (C*) and hue-angle (h*) values were calcu-
lated as C* = (a*2
and h* = tanÀ1
respectively. To determine the proportion of muscle, bone,
and fat in the carcasses by dissection in the lab, we ran-
domly selected 16 additional rabbits. The Longissimus dorsi
was removed from both sides and the right side was sliced
into three steaks for instrumental analyses. Water holding
capacity (WHC), which we measured 72 h after slaughter,
is expressed as percentage (%) of expelled juice after com-
pression, using the Grau and Hamm Method (Boakye &
Mittal, 2004; Can˜eque & San˜udo, 2001). For the analyses
of meat texture, Longissimus dorsi muscles were vacuum-
packaged and frozen at À18 °C. Thawed steaks (internal
temperature 17–19 °C) were cut transversely, and analysed
as either raw (compression) or cooked meat (Warner–Brat-
zler), following the reference methods described by Honikel
(1998). We performed compression and Warner–Bratzler
(WB) analyses on sample slices using an Instron 4301 (fol-
lowing Campo et al., 2000). The texture of the raw meat
was determined using a modiﬁed compression device that
avoids transversal elongation of the sample (Lepetit & Cul-
ioli, 1994). The stress was assessed at 20% (K20), 40%
(K40), 60% (K60) and 80% (K80) of the maximum com-
pression (MS, N/cm2
). The K20 reﬂected a progressive ten-
derization of the meat as ageing progressed. Lepetit and
Culioli (1994) observed that low compression values were
related to the resistance of myoﬁbrils to deformation (com-
pression). Higher stress compression values are mainly
related to the connective tissue components (Lepetit & Cul-
ioli, 1994). Vacuum packaged meat was cooked in a water
bath at 75 °C until the internal temperature reached 70 °C.
We cut samples (1 cm2
cross-section) in a rectangular shape
and with the muscle ﬁbres parallel to the longitudinal axis
of the sample. To assess shear force and toughness, samples
were sheared until they broke. The sample was 10 mm
wide, 10 mm thick and 30 mm long. Load cell was 100 kg
(minimum load level = 0.001 kg), crosshead speed was
150 mm/min (high extension limit = 30 mm) and sampling
rate was 20 points/s. The data were analysed using the least
square method of the GLM procedure in SAS SAS (1988),
ﬁtting the data in a three-way model that included the ﬁxed
eﬀects of transport time (2), season (2) and position of the
cages within the vehicle (3), and the interaction eﬀects.
Among the rabbits in our study, the average composi-
tion of the left middle carcass was 71.58 ± 2.7% muscle,
5.80 ± 1.09% fat, and 16.53 ± 1.8% bone (n = 16 animals)
and did not diﬀer signiﬁcantly between transport times.
Average pH 24 (least square means LSM ± S.E. = 5.86 ±
0.02 for 1 h and 5.83 ± 0.02 for 7 h) and water-holding
capacity (WHC: 13.77 ± 0.45 for 1 h and 13.57 ± 0.43 for
7 h) did not diﬀer signiﬁcantly between animals transported
for 1 h compared to 7 h.
For both transport times and seasons, position on the
truck did not inﬂuence meat quality measurements (Table
1). Transport time had a signiﬁcant eﬀect (p 6 0.05) on
all of the meat texture parameters measured by compres-
sion, but did not aﬀect shear force or toughness. Season
had a signiﬁcant eﬀect (p 6 0.05) on pH 24, WHC and all
colour parameters. For meat texture, only shear force,
toughness and K20 were aﬀected. In general, transport
time had much less of an eﬀect on meat quality than time
Rabbits subjected to the short (1 h) journey had higher
K20, K40, and K60 values in summer and winter (Table
2). Yield point values were also signiﬁcantly (p 6 0.001)
higher after a 1 h journey in both seasons. Shear force,
toughness, 20% compression, and maximum stress values
were higher in winter than in summer. For the shear force
and toughness, the interaction between transport time and
season was signiﬁcant (p 6 0.05). For short journeys, the
meat seemed to be more tender in summer, while meat
was more tender after long journeys in winter.
Season had a signiﬁcant aﬀect on all the colour co-ordi-
nates (L*, a*, b*, C* and h*) but transport time only had a
signiﬁcant eﬀect on a* and C* values (Table 1). The eﬀect
of transport time on a* values was statistically signiﬁcant
(p 6 0.01) in winter, with the highest values after long jour-
774 G.A. Marı´a et al. / Meat Science 72 (2006) 773–777
neys. The a* values were higher in winter, while b* was
higher in summer (Table 2). Lightness values varied more
than the other colour parameters, and values were signiﬁ-
cantly (p 6 0.05) higher in summer than in winter, being
highest on long summer journeys. For L*, the interaction
between transport time and season was statistically signiﬁ-
cant (p 6 0.05). Transport time did not aﬀect hue, but
chroma values were signiﬁcantly (p 6 0.01) higher in meat
from rabbits exposed to a long (7 h) journey. Hue values
and chroma values were signiﬁcantly (p 6 0.001) higher
in summer and winter, respectively.
Even under optimum conditions, the multiple potential
stressors involved in the transport process might aﬀect
the quality of commercial rabbit meat. We performed our
study under controlled commercial conditions that
Summary of signiﬁcance levels of the main eﬀects and their interactions for instrumental meat quality parameters of commercial rabbits
Response variable Main eﬀects in the full model Interactions
Season Time Position S*T S*P P*S S*T*P
pH 24 *** NS NS NS NS NS NS
Water holding capacity *** NS NS NS NS NS NS
Shear force (Kgf) *** NS NS *** NS NS NS
Yield point (Kg) NS *** NS NS NS NS NS
) *** NS NS *** NS NS NS
K20 (20%) *** *** NS NS NS NS NS
K40 (40%) NS *** NS NS NS NS NS
K60 (60%) NS *** NS NS NS NS NS
K80 (80%) NS * NS NS NS NS NS
Maximum stress (N/cm2
) NS *** NS NS NS NS NS
Colour - CIEL*a*b*
L* * NS NS * NS NS NS
a* *** * NS NS NS NS NS
b* *** NS NS NS NS NS NS
C* (Chroma) *** ** NS NS NS NS NS
h* (hue) *** NS NS NS NS NS NS
The levels of signiﬁcance were *p < 0.05**p < 0.01***p < 0.001. Season refers to summer or winter. Time: journey time (1 or 7 h). Position: position in the
multi-ﬂoor cage rolling stand (top, middle or bottom cages) during transport.
Least square means (±SE) of instrumental meat quality parameters of rabbit in summer and winter at two transport times (1 or 7 h)
Response variable Summer (1) Winter (2)
1 (h) 7 (h) 1 (h) 7 (h)
pH 24 5.75 ± 0.02a 5.77 ± 0.01a 5.97 ± 0.03b 5.90 ± 0.02b
Water holding capacity 12.61 ± 0.45a 12.12 ± 0.44a 14.93 ± 0.45b 14.57 ± 0.42b
Shear force (Kgf) 0.61 ± 0.04a 0.72 ± 0.04a 1.04 ± 0.03b 0.91 ± 0.04c
Yield point (Kg) 0.18 ± 0.02a 0.06 ± 0.01b 0.17 ± 0.02a 0.09 ± 0.02b
) 0.25 ± 0.01a 0.31 ± 0.02b 0.42 ± 0.02c 0.31 ± 0.02b
K20 (20%) 10.65 ± 0.34a 9.69 ± 0.33b 12.32 ± 0.34c 11.39 ± 0.35a
K40 (40%) 19.45 ± 0.48a 17.89 ± 0.47b 20.88 ± 0.49c 17.73 ± 0.47b
K60 (60%) 16.20 ± 0.57a 15.33 ± 0.56a 18.02 ± 0.57b 15.44 ± 0.56a
K80 (80%) 16.66 ± 0.56a 17.01 ± 0.57a 17.36 ± 0.52a 14.92 ± 0.51b
Maximum stress (N/cm2
) 21.90 ± 0.62a 20.61 ± 0.0.61a 24.02 ± 0.63b 20.74 ± 0.60a
L* 58.46 ± 0.34ab 59.36 ± 0.36b 58.44 ± 0.33ab 57.95 ± 0.31a
a* 2.34 ± 0.21a 2.49 ± 0.20a 3.45 ± 0.22b 4.19 ± 0.26c
b* 4.09 ± 0.25a 4.18 ± 0.27a 2.92 ± 0.20b 3.18 ± 0.22b
C* (Chroma) 4.75 ± 0.18a 4.92 ± 0.18a 5.01 ± 0.19b 5.71 ± 0.18c
h* (hue) 60.25 ± 3.01a 59.42 ± 3.02a 40.68 ± 3.01b 37.94 ± 3.00b
Diﬀerent letters in the same row indicate signiﬁcant diﬀerences, p 6 0.05.
G.A. Marı´a et al. / Meat Science 72 (2006) 773–777 775
included the same type of animal, same age, same produc-
tion system and same vehicle and driver.
The meat quality parameter values fell within the range
of what is considered good quality meat and similar to Tro-
cino, Xiccato, Queaque, and Sartori (2002) and Xiccato
et al. (1994). Season had a signiﬁcant eﬀect on meat colour,
pH, WHC and a modest inﬂuence on WB-derived meat
texture parameters. Position on the transport vehicle did
not aﬀect meat quality.
At the industrial level, ultimate pH is the main parame-
ter used to measure meat quality. In our study, pH 24 val-
ues were signiﬁcantly higher in winter than in summer, but
transport time did not appear to inﬂuence pH 24. In long
and short journeys, pH 24 values were always below 6.0
(hence, within the quality range), which means that trans-
port procedures were appropriate and minimized the risk
of DFD or PSE meat. Our ﬁndings agree with Trocino
et al. (2002). Other studies (Dalle Zotte, 2002; Jolley,
1990; Masoero et al., 1992) found that transport raises
pH 24, and Dal Bosco, Castellini, and Berbnardini (1997)
reported that pH was higher after long journeys. The same
situation (values within the quality range), was observed
for WHC, although some studies found that transport
aﬀects WHC indirectly, as an increase in ultimate pH pro-
duces a rise in the WHC (Jolley, 1990; Trocino et al., 2002).
Nevertheless, ultimate pH might be aﬀected by the treat-
ment applied (Ouhayoun & Dalle Zotte, 1996).
Solving the problem of inconsistent tenderness is a top
priority for the meat industry (Burns, 2005). Eating satis-
faction results from the interaction of this quality charac-
teristic with other factors like juiciness and ﬂavour
(Koohmaraie, 1996). Texture is a complex concept that
includes many diﬀerent factors, including ﬁbrosity, cohe-
siveness, chewiness and tenderness. Meat tenderness and
texture are important factors for consumers because they
determine the commercial value of the meat and the way
it will be cooked (tenderized or processed; Lepetit & Culi-
Texture can be assessed by taste panels or by instrumen-
tal analysis (San˜udo et al., 2003) and is inﬂuenced by three
main factors; sarcomere length, the amount of connective
tissue and its degree of cross-linking, and the extent of pro-
teolytic changes that occur during conditioning post-mor-
tem. Large amounts of intramuscular fat, which is scarce
in rabbits, will also increase tenderness.
The mechanical properties of meat depend on many
types of ﬁbres. In order to analyze the role played by each
structure in the overall mechanical behaviour of meat,
numerous devices and working conditions are used. These
methods have been established by correlating a mechanical
property with some characteristics of structure analyzed
(Lepetit, 1991). Connective and myoﬁbrillar characteristics
can be quantiﬁed mechanically by testing stress at low and
high compression rates in raw meat (Lepetit, 1991). Alter-
natively, Warner–Bratzler shear force, which has been
widely used to evaluate cooked meat, can be considered
to reﬂect both myoﬁbrillar and connective tissue tough-
ness. Warner–Bratzler shear force is accepted as a good
predictor of tenderness observed sensorially and could be
used as a criterion to determine meat acceptability (San˜udo
et al., 2003), at least in species more widely studied than
The leanness of rabbit meat increases the relative impor-
tance of tenderness measurements of rabbit meat quality.
This is especially important in the Spanish market since
consumers prefer low weight carcasses. In any case, rabbit
meat is more tender than meat from other species (Lawrie,
1991). The eﬀect of transport on rabbit meat quality, as
measured by a modiﬁed compression device (even under
optimal transport conditions, as in our study), will have a
signiﬁcant inﬂuence on overall appreciation of the meat.
It is foreseeable that under sub-optimal conditions, the
eﬀect of transport stress on rabbit meat quality should be
In our study, the 7 h journey had a signiﬁcant eﬀect on
the instrumental quality of rabbit meat, as measured by a
modiﬁed compression device, which reﬂects the mechanical
resistance of the myoﬁbril structure (K20) and connective
tissue strength (K80) (Lepetit & Culioli, 1994). Both season
and transport time had a signiﬁcant eﬀect on K20, which
was lowest after long journeys in summer. Thus, tenderness
is highly related to primary toughness due to myoﬁbril
Unlike Dal Bosco et al. (1997), who found a ‘‘greater
shear force in animals subjected to long transportation’’,
shear force values did not diﬀer with respect to transport
times. Our ﬁndings agree with other authors (Masoero
et al., 1992; Trocino et al., 2002). Season had a signiﬁcant
eﬀect on meat texture parameters measured using a War-
ner–Bratzler shear device, shear force and toughness. Fur-
thermore, the eﬀect of the transport time on tenderness did
not appear to be independent of environmental tempera-
ture, as reﬂected by the signiﬁcant interaction between
transport time and season, with opposite eﬀects of journey
length on tenderness evaluated by Warner–Bratzler in sum-
mer than winter. This interaction between transport time
and season could be related to the seasonal variation of
the energy metabolism. Nevertheless, it is a speculation
and, clearly, the seasonal eﬀect and its interaction with
transport time require further investigation.
One of the most important aspects in terms of meat
appearance is colour, which the consumer uses as an indi-
cator of quality and freshness (Faustman & Cassens, 1990;
Naumann, Rhodes, Brady, & Kiehl, 1957). The quantity of
myoglobin in muscle determines colour. The proportion of
reduced and oxygenated myoglobin provides a subjective
idea of freshness and oxidized myoglobin (grey-brown) or
metmyoglobin is undesirable. Colour stability can be asso-
ciated with pre-slaughter treatment (Renerre, 1990).
The potential eﬀects of transportation on the colour of
rabbit meat are not well known. Dal Bosco et al. (1997)
evaluated the eﬀect of 400 and 15 km transportation on
meat from 12-week-old rabbits. In the muscles of animals
transported 400 km, L* decreased, and a* and b* increased
776 G.A. Marı´a et al. / Meat Science 72 (2006) 773–777
signiﬁcantly. Dal Bosco et al. (1997) suggested that a* val-
ues might be a consequence of high pH values. Other stud-
ies (Ouhayoun & Lebas, 1994) found that lightness values
were lower in meat from animals subjected to long trans-
portation. Jolley (1990) reported that transport time
decreases lightness and colour saturation, which makes
meat look darker, but with no detrimental eﬀect on quality.
In our study, colour values were similar to those
reported by Trocino et al. (2002), but higher than in Jolley
(1990). Transport time increased a* and C* values, which
could be related with higher pigment content (Renerre,
1990). However, transport time did not signiﬁcantly inﬂu-
ence other colour parameters. Time of year aﬀected all
meat colour parameters, but the eﬀects were not enough
to have a negative eﬀect on meat quality, as colour CIE-
LAB diﬀerences (DE*) were small and diﬃcult to distin-
guish with the naked eye (Abril et al., 2001).
Transport and season had signiﬁcant eﬀects on chroma.
Hue did not change with transport time but in terms of sea-
son, meat was slightly more red in winter and orange in
In general, transport time aﬀected several measures of
meat quality and this eﬀect depended on the time of year
the rabbits were transported. The eﬀect was higher in sum-
mer than in winter, therefore time of year might be a med-
ium stressor that acts independently of transport time.
Based on our results, the multifactor stressors involved in
the transport process can aﬀect rabbit meat quality even
under optimal transport conditions.
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