A research note: Antioxidant effects on color of an irradiated bovine myoglobin model system

Andrea J. Stetzer, Jan E. Novakofski, Mary Susan Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To determine whether antioxidants could protect meat color during irradiation, we extracted myoglobin (Mb) from beef hearts, treated it with one of four antioxidants (control, citric acid [CA], ascorbic acid [AA], ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid [EDTA] or propyl gallate [PG]) and irradiated it at 0.00, 1.25, or 2.50 kGy. The myoglobin model system was then evaluated for pH; Commission Internationale de L'Eclairage (CIE) L*, a* and b* values; hue angle; chroma; and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS). Adding CA and AA to the beef myoglobin model system resulted in higher L*, a* and b* values than did EDTA and PG, indicating that these samples were lighter, redder and more yellow. EDTA- and PG-containing samples were more similar to controls containing no antioxidants. Hue angle and chroma supported these findings. Irradiation had no effect on pH, color or TBARS. These results indicate that antioxidants have more influence on beef color than irradiation and that the acidic antioxidants have the potential for preserving color. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS Irradiation has the potential to reduce the microbial load on meat products, producing safer foods for consumers. However, a number of reports have indicated that irradiation can compromise the bright, cherry red color of fresh meat. Off-color will result in consumer rejection of products that may be safe. Antioxidants have the potential to preserve meat color by affecting the state of myoglobin; however, studying these effects in vivo is challenging because of the complexity of the system. In this model system, which was devoid of enzymatic reducing systems and equivalents, the acidic antioxidants, ascorbic acid (AA) and citric acid (CA), were most effective in preserving the color of the pigment. These antioxidants appear to have the greatest potential for preserving fresh meat color during irradiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-210
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Muscle Foods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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