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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Title: Use of Dielectric Spectroscoy for Determining Quality Attributes of Poultry Meat

item Nelson, Stuart

Submitted to: ASABE Annual International Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 28, 2009
Publication Date: June 21, 2009
Citation: Trabelsi, S., Nelson, S.O. 2009. Use of Dielectric Spectroscoy for Determining Quality Attributes of Poultry Meat. ASABE Annual International Meeting.

Interpretive Summary: Consumer satisfaction with chicken meat depends mainly on quality factors that include taste, freshness, juiciness, and tenderness. However, little effort has been made so far to assess and monitor chicken meat quality by use of rapid, nondestructive instrument-based techniques in the poultry industry. Dielectric properties, the electrical properties of products that can be sensed with electric fields, have potential for assessing meat quality nondestructively. Measurement of the dielectric properties of chicken breast meat over a broad frequency range, 200 MHz to 20 GHz, revealed that it was possible to characterize each meat sample according to its water holding capacity and pH (acidity). Results of the study indicated the presence of a broad dielectric relaxation that is typical of bound water with different degrees of binding. This was further confirmed with measurements over a wide temperature range. Results from this study indicate that dielectric spectroscopy has potential for determining quality attributes of chicken breast meat such as water holding capacity and pH from measurement of their dielectric properties. Our results suggest that there is some potential for using dielectric properties measurements to assess quality of chicken meat nondestructively, which could benefit growers, processors and consumers.

Technical Abstract: Use of dielectric spectroscopy for determining quality attributes of poultry meat was investigated at frequencies between 200 MHz and 20 GHz and temperatures ranging from -16 oC to 70 oC. Dielectric measurements were performed with an open-ended coaxial-line probe and a vector network analyzer. Samples were cut from chicken breast and placed in a temperature-controlled sample holder for the dielectric spectroscopy measurements. Also, for each chicken breast the pH and water holding capacity were measured. The frequency dependence of the dielectric properties of chicken breast indicates that ionic conduction is the dominant mechanism at the lower frequencies and there is a dipolar relaxation at about 10 GHz. Temperature dependence of the dielectric properties of chicken breast reveals a sharp increase of the dielectric constant and dielectric loss factor at 0 oC. This behavior is similar to that of water.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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