Assessing Water-Holding Capacity (WHC) of Meat Using Microwave Spectroscopy

  • B. M. Abdullah
  • J. D. Cullen
  • O. Korostynska
  • A. Mason
  • A. I. Al-Shamma’a
Part of the Smart Sensors, Measurement and Instrumentation book series (SSMI, volume 7)


Water-holding capacity (WHC) is the ability of muscle to retain naturally occurring moisture in meat. WHC is a growing problem in the meat industry affecting yield and quality of the meat. Numerous methods have been applied to determine WHC such as the bag drip method and filter paper compression. However, such methods of measuring WHC/drip loss are time-consuming. This chapter reviews some of the current methods used for determination of WHC. The chapter will also present a novel method to measure drip loss and hence determine WHC using a microwave cavity. The cavity is first modeled using Ansys High Frequency Structure Simulator (HFSS) which is a 3D full wave EM field simulation package that can be used to design microwave structures. The cavity is then constructed, tested and evaluated in LJMU laboratories. Results obtained using different types of meat such as; pork, chicken, beef and lamb are presented and discussed. Attained results indicate that determination of WHC using microwave spectroscopy is a promising alternative to the exciting methods.


Water-holding capacity (WHC) Drip loss Microwave cavity HFSS EZ-Driploss Meat quality EM sensing 



This work has been conducted as part of the EUREKA project entitled “Increased Efficiency: Moving from Assumed Quality to Online Measurement and Process Control” (INFORMED, Project Number 6748).


  1. 1.
    R. Hamm, Biochemistry of meat hydration. Adv Food Res 10, 355–436 (1960)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    G. Offer, J. Trinick, On the mechanism of water holding in meat: the swelling and shrinking of myofibrils. Meat Sci 8, 245–281 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    T.R. Baechle, R.W. Earle, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (Human Kinetic, Champaign, 2008)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    K.L. Pearce, K. Rosenvold, H.J. Andersen, D.L. Hopkins, Water distribution and mobility in meat during the conversion of muscle to meat and ageing and the impacts on fresh meat quality attributes—a review. Meat Sci 89, 111–124 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    S. Ke, Effect of pH and salts on tenderness and water-holding capacity of muscle foods, 3215890 Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts, 2006Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    E. Huff-Lonergan, S. Lonergan, Mechanisms of water-holding capacity of meat: The role of postmortem biochemical and structural changes. Meat Sci 71, 194–204 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    L. Kristensen, P.P. Purslow, The effect of ageing on the water-holding capacity of pork: role of cytoskeletal proteins. Meat Sci 58, 17–23 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    J.L. Melody, S.M. Lonergan, L.J. Rowe, T.W. Huiatt, M.S. Mayes, E. Huff-Lonergan, Early postmortem biochemical factors influence tenderness and water-holding capacity of three porcine muscles. J Anim Sci 82, 1195–1205 (2004)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    P. McClain, M. Mullins, Relationship of Water Binding and pH to Tenderness of Bovine Muscles. J Anim Sci 29, 268–271 (1969)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    C. Maltin, D. Balcerzak, R. Tilley, M. Delday, Determinants of meat quality: tenderness. Proc Nutr Soc 62, 337–347 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    M.J.-F. Charles, Apparatus and method for predicting meat tenderness, 20100221395, 2010Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    E. Hambrecht, J.J. Eissen, R.I. Nooijent, B.J. Ducro, C.H. Smits, L.A. den Hartog, M.W. Verstegen, Preslaughter stress and muscle energy largely determine pork quality at two commercial processing plants. J Anim Sci 82, 1401–1409 (2004)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    A. Di Luca, G. Elia, R. Hamill, A.M. Mullen, 2D DIGE proteomic analysis of early post mortem muscle exudate highlights the importance of the stress response for improved water-holding capacity of fresh pork meat. Proteomics 13, 1528–1544 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    P.G. Chambers, T. Grandin, G. Heinz, T. Srisuvan, Guidelines for Humane Handling, Transport and Slaughter of Livestock. RAP Publication 2001/4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Humane Society of the United States, 2001 Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    E. Puolanne, M. Halonen, Theoretical aspects of water-holding in meat. Meat Sci 86, 151–165 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    K. Honnikel, Reference methods supported by OECD and their use in Mediterranean meat products. Food Chem 54, 573–582 (1996)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    A. Rassmussen, M. Andersson, New method for determination of drip loss in pork muscles. Presented at the 42nd International congress of meat science and technology, Lillehammer, Norway, 1996Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    R. Hamm, Kolloidchemie des Fleisches—das Wasserbindungsvermoegen des Muskeleiweisses, in Theorie und Praxis, ed Berlin: Paul Parey, 1972Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    R. Grau, G. Hamm, Eine enfache Methode zur Bestimmung der Wasserbindung im Muskel, Die Naturwissenschaften, 40, 29–30 (1953)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    P. Bouton, P. Harris, W. Shorthose, The effect of ultimate pH on bovine muscle: mechanical properties. J Food Sci 37, 351 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    C. Walukonis, T. Morgan, D. Gerrard, J. Forrest, A technique for predicting water-holding capacity in early post-mortem muscle, in Purdue Swine Research Reports ed West Lafayette: Purdue University, 2002Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    H.C. Bertram, H.J. Andersen, NMR and the water-holding issue of pork. J Anim Breed Genet 124, 35–42 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    A.M. Mullen, C. McDonagh, D.J. Troy, Technologies for detecting PSE in pork, Research report, 2003Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    D. M. Pozar (ed.), Microwave Engineering, 2nd edn. Wiley, New York, 1998Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. M. Abdullah
    • 1
  • J. D. Cullen
    • 1
  • O. Korostynska
    • 1
  • A. Mason
    • 1
  • A. I. Al-Shamma’a
    • 1
  1. 1.Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Research InstituteLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations