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Wednesday Wisdom: Changes in Animal Meat After Zabiyha/Qurbani

Wednesday Wisdom: Changes in Animal Meat After Zabiyha/Qurbani

(Featured image by Jakub Kolinek)

When an animal is slaughtered/zabiyha, it’s muscles turn into meat while undergoing many chemical changes. Here is a brief overview of the process:

  1. Meat color.
  2. Meat getting tough.

1. Meat Color:

If animals are vulnerable to stress prior to slaughter, like they had a fight with each other or they were not fed or rested well or they were kept in tight space or they had a long run before being slaughtered, it can effect their pH (potential hydrogen) balance:

  • pH 7 is neutral
  • pH below 7 in acidic
  • pH above 7 is alkaline

So the key is to keep them calm and handle them as gently as possible will ensure that their pH remains stable prior to death which is about 6.5 (neutral) and drops to 5.6 – 5.2 during the first 24 hours post slaughter. When the animal ceases to breathe and as blood leaves the animal with the heart still pumping, about 50% of the blood is removed. It takes about 4-6 minutes before the heart ceases to beat. As the pH begins to drop below 6.5, lactic acid is produced, increasing the acidity. Lactic acid serves as a preservative, lessening deterioration of the carcass until the temperature of the muscles reaches 4 C/ 40 F.

2. Meat Becoming Tough:

After slaughter when carcass temperature is dropping, muscles start becoming meat. At this point Rigor Mortis (the stiffening of the muscles after death) begins to set in. It can take from 12-24 hours depending on the size of the animal and amount of exterior fat covering. At first muscle fibres begin to shorten due to depletion of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) causing the muscle to become less extendable while hanging under load. when muscle fibres reach maximum shortening, it results in stiff muscle. Then stiff fibres begin to extend again and stretch out to almost their original length. Length of time required for rigor mortis is different in different animals. For cow, goat and lamb it is generally from 24-48 hours.


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