Effect of postmortem phases on lamb meat quality: A physicochemical, microstructural and water mobility approach

Yue Ge1, Dequan Zhang1, Huimin Zhang1, Xin Li1, Fei Fang1, Ce Liang1, Zhenyu Wang1,*
Author Information & Copyright
1Institute of Food Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Key Laboratory of Agro-products Quality and Safety Control in Storage and Transport Process, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing 100193, China.
*Corresponding Author: Zhenyu Wang, Phone: +86-10-62818740. E-mail:

© Copyright 2021 Korean Society for Food Science of Animal Resources. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: May 28, 2021 ; Revised: Jul 06, 2021 ; Accepted: Jul 26, 2021

Published Online: Jul 27, 2021


To investigate the effect of postmortem phases on lamb meat quality, the physicochemical quality, microstructure and water mobility of oyster cut, short loin, knuckle and silverside muscles from Small-Tail Han sheep were evaluated in the pre-rigor, rigor mortis and post-rigor phases. Pre-rigor lamb meat had higher pH and water holding capacity, whereas lower CIE L*, b*, hue angle values than rigor mortis and post-rigor meat (p<0.05). The Warner-Bratzler shear force values were higher in rigor mortis short loin and silverside than their pre-rigor and post-rigor counterparts, pre-rigor short loin had lower Warner-Bratzler shear force value than its post-rigor counterpart (p<0.05). Muscle fibers shrank laterally and longitudinally during the onset of rigor mortis. Rigor mortis and post-rigor lamb meat exhibited wide I-bands, dark A-bands, short sarcomeres and large inter-myofibrillar spaces. The shift of immobilized water to free water and repulsion from the intra-myofibrillar space to the extracellular space result in the increase of water loss in rigor mortis and post-rigor lamb meat. The results of the principal component analysis (PCA) indicated that rigor mortis and post-rigor lamb meat had similar quality properties but different from pre-rigor lamb meat. In conclusion, the lamb meat in the pre-rigor phase had good tenderness, color and water holding capacity. The results of this research could provide some theoretical references for lamb meat production and processing.

Keywords: lamb meat quality; pre-rigor; rigor mortis; post-rigor; microstructure

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