Background and methodology:
This study compared eating quality and shelf-life of meat from organic free-range broilers to meat from commercially-raised broilers. The commercial birds were 42 days of age before slaughter and the organic free range birds were 10 weeks of age prior to slaughter. A total of 200 broiler breast fillets in 2 trials were obtained from a commercial processor and an organic free-range processor. The breast fillets arrived at the Texas Tech University Meat Laboratory within 24 hours of slaughter.
Free-range chicken breasts were significantly larger than commercial chicken breasts. Breast fillets from the free-range birds had higher pH values and were darker than meat from the commercially raised birds.
The oxidation (TBARS) levels on Day 0 (24 hours post-slaughter) were significantly higher for the commercially raised broiler breast fillets but by Day 3 of refrigerated storage the level of oxidation was similar. Free-range fillets had significantly higher APC and coliform counts and exhibited signs of spoilage earlier than commercial fillets. Consumers evaluated breast fillets, using a ranking test and analyzed using Kruskal-Wallis.
Consumers found no difference in fillet juiciness. tenderness or flavor. Trained panelists evaluated drums finding no difference in tenderness or flavor, but determined that meat from free-range birds was juicier and had stronger attachment to the bone.
Alvarado, C. Z., Wenger, E., & O’Keefe, S. F. (2005). Consumer perceptions of meat quality and shelf-life in commercially raised broilers compared to organic free range broilers. Proceedings of the XVII European Symposium on the Quality of Poultry Meat and XI European Symposium on the Quality of Eggs and Egg Products, Doorwerth, Netherlands, 23-26 May 2005, pp. 257-261. Available on-line at: http://www.animalscience.com/uploads/additionalFiles/QualityOfPoultryMeat/25.pdf