• The effects of freezing and storage time on the quality of reindeer meat

      Aguiar, George A.; Finstad, Gregory L.; Bechtel, Peter J.; Wiklund, Eva (2017-08)
      Restaurants, wholesalers and retailers of fresh meat require a year round consistent supply of uniform quality product to sustain demand and justify niche market costs such as advertisement and stocking product. Frozen reindeer meat could be stored, short or long term to increase availability provided there are no adverse effects of freezing. No studies to date have evaluated the effects of freezing and storage time on reindeer meat quality. Nine reindeer steers (castrated bulls; age 2.5 years) were fed a balanced milled ration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Reindeer Research Program (RRP) facility at the Agricultural Forestry Experiment Station (AFES). In February, animals were transported to a USDA approved meat processing facility for slaughter where both striploins (M. longissimus dorsi) were removed from the carcasses. The striploin samples were allocated to four subsamples consisting of fresh (control), freshly frozen, 6 month frozen and 12 month frozen treatment groups to determine if freezing and frozen storage of reindeer meat for up to one year effects meat quality. All samples underwent shear force measurement, water holding capacity (WHC) determination, proximate analysis, sensory evaluation, TBARS (rancidity) and fatty acid methyl ester profile (FAMES) analysis. Meat was sampled after 6 months of frozen storage for amino acid and mineral analysis. Shear force values were not significantly different amongst treatment groups fresh to 12 month (P=0.992). Purge and cooking loss variation were significant between fresh and 12 months (P = 1e-05,1e-04). There was no significant difference from fresh to 12 month in moisture, ash and protein content while lipid content variation was significantly different (P = 0.99, 1.00, 1.00 and < 1e -6 respectively). Tenderness and juiciness attributes were not significantly different among treatment groups fresh and 12 month (P=0.91 and P=0.53); however, an off flavor attribute was significantly different (P=0.005) amongst treatment groups suggesting that off flavor diminishes with freezing. While not detected in sensory evaluation, mean TBARS (rancidity) values increased significantly (P = <.1e-04) between fresh and 12 months. Characterization of reindeer muscle indicated that the amino acid profile and selected mineral were consistent with that of a high quality nutritional meat product. Omega 3 fatty acid (W3), Omega 6 fatty acid (W6), Monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), the ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 (W3/W6) and the ratio between PUFA and MUFA (PS) were not significantly different while Saturated fatty acid (SAFA) was significantly different amongst treatments groups from fresh to 12 months. (P= 0.35, 1.00, 0.96, 0.12, 1.00, 0.14 and 0.03). Results of this study suggest reindeer meat can be frozen for up to a year without compromising quality. This could facilitate the marketing flexibility for the reindeer industry to be able to provide a consistent supply of product year round to niche restaurants and wholesalers while commanding a premium price.