Frozen samples of mechanically deboned chicken meat (MDCM) with skin were irradiated with gamma radiation doses of 0.0 kGy (control) and 3 kGy at 2 different radiation dose rates: 0.32 kGy/h (3 kGy) and 4.04 kGy/h (3 kGy). Batches of irradiated and control samples were evaluated during 11 d of refrigerated (2 +/- 1 degrees C) storage for the following parameters: total psychrotrophic bacteria count, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), evaluation of objective color (L*, a*, and b*) and a sensory evaluation (irradiated odor, oxidized odor, pink and brown colors). No statistical difference (P > 0.05) was found amongst the TBARS values obtained for the MDCM samples irradiated with dose rates of 0.32 and 4.04 kGy/h. There was a significant increase (P < 0.05) in the psychrotrophic bacterial count as from the 7th day of refrigerated storage, for the MDCM samples irradiated at the dose rate of 4.04 kGy/h. With respect to the attribute of oxidized odor, the samples irradiated with a dose rate of 0.32 kGy/h showed a stronger intensity and were significantly different (P < 0.05) from the sample irradiated with a dose rate of 4.04 kGy/h on days 0 and 2 of refrigerated storage. Irradiation with a dose rate of 4.04 kGy/h (3 kGy) was shown to be the best condition for the processing of MDCM according to the evaluation of all the variables, under the conditions of this study. Practical Application The results obtained for the application of different dose rates of ionizing radiation to mechanically deboned chicken meat will provide the food industry with information concerning the definition of the best processing conditions to maximize the sensory and food quality
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