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Among the eating qualities attributed to cooked meat, tenderness is considered an essential factor in dictating consumers' overall satisfaction and future purchase. Tenderness can be influenced by several extrinsic and intrinsic factors; however, the extent of postmortem proteolysis that occurs during meat aging is the main contributor to end-product tenderness. The process involves enzymatic degradation of key cytoskeletal proteins and the signaling of cellular apoptosis, which ultimately leads to the breakdown of muscles structural integrity, resulting in tenderization. The calcium-dependent calpain system, specifically calpain-1, has been recognized as the main protease involved in postmortem tenderization. In the presence of calcium, calpain-1 undergoes autolysis and becomes proteolytically active. Early exposure to calcium has been shown to enhance calpain activity and improved meat tenderness. However, most methods introducing calcium into muscle involve injecting salt solutions, which runs the risk of microbial contamination and damage to the product. Thus, a more effective method of enhancing calpain activity is needed.

longissimus dorsi muscle was subjected to ultrasonication. Tenderness and proteolysis were evaluated over a 336 h aging period. Tenderness and proteolysis were enhanced (P < 0.05) in ultrasonicated steaks. Thus far, the results suggest ultrasonication improves meat tenderness during postmortem aging. Further evaluation of free calcium, calpain activity, and other biomarkers of tenderness is needed.


Utah State University

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Life Sciences | Nutrition

Power Ultrasonication Improves Tenderness and Proteolysis in Beef Steak During Aging

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