Improving meat quality through natural antioxidants

Valeria Velasco1*, and Pamela Williams1

Nowadays, consumers are demanding more natural foods, obliging the industry to include natural antioxidants in foods. Natural antioxidants have been used instead of synthetic antioxidants to retard lipid oxidation in foods to improve their quality and nutritional value. This review discusses some aspects of recent research on antioxidant activity of plant extracts and natural compounds to improve meat quality. Many herbs, spices, and their extracts have been reported as having high antioxidant capacity, such as some plants of the Lamiaceae family, e.g., oregano (Origanum vulgare L.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), and sage (Salvia officinalis L.). The antioxidant activity of these plants is attributed to their phenolic compound content, which includes volatile compounds also known as essential oils. Several factors that cause some differences on the antioxidant activity of plant extracts include: type of solvent used during extraction, measurement method, and number of samples. Some studies have demonstrated that shelf-life and meat quality can be improved by using natural antioxidants in some stages of meat production. The main effects of these compounds are reducing microbial growth and lipid oxidation during storage. Nevertheless, more research is needed to determine antimicrobial activity of natural antioxidants in meat during storage, identify the main metabolic pathway of these compounds, and its effect on other meat quality parameters.

Keywords: antioxidant activity, essential oils, phenolic compounds, meat quality.
1Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Agronomía, Av. Vicente Méndez 595, Chillán, Chile. *Corresponding author (vvelasco@udec.cl).