The turkey industry is currently confronted with problems of oxidation, which result in the apparition of zones of discoloration of red meat products. This defect increases over time and leads to the systematic withdrawal of products. Yet, factors at the origin of these defects have not been clearly identified even if the generalized heaviness of animals could be an aggravating factor. Forty-four turkey flocks were considered in this study issued from four French slaughter plants. For every flock, various parameters related to the animal or its rearing system or meat traits were recorded. The occurrence and severity of oxidation defects were visually determined at days 6 and 15 post-mortem on 50 packages of four turkey skewers per flock. Samples of meat were also taken to determine several physico-chemical and biochemical traits: TBA-RS (lipid oxidation), haem iron, oxygen and lipid (LIM) contents and determination of fatty acid composition (saturated, AGS; mono-unsaturated, AGMI; polyunsaturated, AGPI; n-6/n-3). Our study highlights the multifactorial determinism of turkey muscle oxidation. Indeed, several factors related to the animal or its finishing diet or to physicochemical or biochemical meat traits play a role in the occurrence and severity of oxidation spots. According to our results, oxidation would be favored in males slaughtered at older ages whose daily average gain and fattening during the finishing period were increased and meat ultimate pH decreased. The production of acid and oxidized chicken breast meat has already been associated with physiological status favoring energy storage as lipids or muscle glycogen to the detriment of protein synthesis. Therefore, it can be suggested to reevaluate the energy and amino acid balance of the turkey finishing diets or reducing the age at slaughter to limit energy storage as lipid or glycogen in carcass or muscles.
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