Short communication: Using infrared ocular thermography as a tool to predict meat quality from lean cattle breeds prior to slaughter: Exploratory trial

Alberto Horcada, Manuel Juárez, Mercedes Valera, Ester Bartolomé


Aim of study: To assess the potential of using infrared ocular thermography (IROT) as a tool to predict beef quality at the slaughterhouse.

Area of study: The study was carried out in the Salteras’s slaughterhouse (Seville, Spain).

Material and methods: Ocular temperature images were captured from 175 lean young bulls prior to slaughter. Carcasses were classified into three groups according to weight: ˂250 kg, 250-310 kg and ˃310 kg. IROT was measured just before slaughter and pH was measured 24 h later. Colour parameters (CIELAB space) were evaluated 48 h post-slaughter. Water holding capacity was evaluated at seven days after slaughter.

Main results: IROT mean values were higher in heavier bulls (p<0.05), probably due to these animals appeared to movilize a greater blood flow, thus increasing ocular temperature. Furthermore, IROT showed a statistically significant correlation with both pH from light carcasses (r=0.66; p<0.001), and mean Hue value from all carcass weights (r=-0.22; p<0.05). A quadratic regression analysis accounting carcass weight as a continuous variable, found medium to strong fit values for pH (R2=0.52; RMSE=0.032; p<0.01) and medium fit values for H* (R2=0.41; RMSE=3.793; p<0.001), changing their relation with IROT depending on carcass weight.

Research highlights: IROT showed potential to become a useful tool to assess pH in light carcasses and to assess H* in all carcasses of young bulls prior to slaughter, regardless their weight. However, further studies would be recommended under more variable pre-slaughter stress conditions.


eye temperature; Spanish native cattle breeds; beef quality; stress; water holding capacity; colour parameters, pH

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2019174-15487