Effects of aging on the fundamental color chemistry of dark-cutting beef

A. R. English, K. M. Wills, B. N. Harsh, G. G. Mafi, D. L. VanOverbeke, R. Ramanathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of the current study was to evaluate the effects of aging on myoglobin chemistry of dark-cutting beef. Ten USDA Choice (mean pH = 5.6; normal pH beef) and 10 no-roll dark cutter (mean pH = 6.4) strip loins were obtained from a commercial packing plant within 3 d of harvest. Loins were cut into 4 sections, vacuum packaged, randomly assigned to 0-, 21-, 42-, and 62-d aging at 2°C in the dark. Following aging, loin sections were cut into 2.5-cm-thick steaks and were used to determine bloom development, oxygen consumption (OC), metmyoglobin reducing activity (MRA), and lipid oxidation. Surface color readings were measured using a HunterLab Miniscan XE Plus spectrophotometer. A significant muscle type × aging time interaction resulted for OC (P < 0.001). Normal pH steaks declined more (P < 0.001) in OC during aging than dark-cutting beef. On d 0, dark-cutting beef had a greater OC (P < 0.001) than normal pH beef. There was a significant muscle type × oxygenation time × aging period interaction for L* values, deoxymyoglo-bin (DeoxyMb), and oxymyoglobin (OxyMb). When dark-cutting sections were aged for 62 d, both 0 and 60 min bloom development L* values were greater (P < 0.0001) than 0 min dark-cutting sections aged for 21 or 42 d. At all aging periods, normal pH beef had greater OxyMb content and lower DeoxyMb (P < 0.0001) during bloom development than dark-cutting beef. An aging period × muscle type interaction was significant for % overall reflectance (P = 0.0017) and absorbance (P = 0.0038). Dark cutting and normal pH beef loin sections aged for 62 d had greater reflectance (P < 0.0001) than 21 d. On d 0, dark-cutting beef had greater (P < 0.0001) MRA than normal pH beef. There were no significant (P = 0.14) differences in MRA between 42 and 62 d between dark-cutting and normal pH beef. Dark cutting steaks had lower thiobarbituric acid reactive substances values (P < 0.0001) than normal pH steaks. The results indicate that characterizing the myoglobin chemistry during aging will help to design strategies to improve appearance of high pH beef.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4040-4048
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Beef strip loin
  • Dark cutter
  • High pH beef
  • Oxygen consumption rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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