Development of novel electrical stimulation strategies to improve meat quality and sensory attributes in beef of heavier live weights and finishing endpoints

Project Details

Status: Completed
Investment: $139,964
Commodity: Beef Cattle
Organization: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Lacombe
Investigator: Oscar Lopez Campos

In the last few years, with the increased size of carcasses, the effectiveness of electrical stimulation (ES) has been called into question.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Electrical stimulation (ES) is a well-known technology which is currently used in many countries during beef processing to improve quality. ES has been reported to reduce tenderness variation and improve muscle colour in beef cattle, including bulls, forage-fed animals, and mature cows.

Typically, one of two forms of ES are used — low voltage (LVES) — applied during or immediately after exsanguination and high voltage electrical stimulation (HVES), usually applied some time after dressing. Higher voltage is thought to be required as time from stunning elapses. When HVES was directly compared to LVES in the same cattle population, the tenderizing effects of HVES were more extensive than LVES, and there were no further improvements when high and low voltage were combined. In the last few years, with the increased size of carcasses, the effectiveness of ES has been called into question.

This research aims to develop and evaluate the efficacy of an amperage-based ES unit applied to beef carcasses over a range of weight and finishing currently encountered in the Canadian market.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This research will help maintain the Canadian beef advantage and allow for premiums to be paid for superior product in terms of flavour and tenderness.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Results will be shared through extension activities like poster presentations, meetings, and publications in scientific journals.