A cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine the water holding capacity (WHC) of beef sold in selected butcher shops of Mekelle, Ethiopia and to establish the effects of pre-slaughter rests and age of the animals with pH and WHC of the meats. A total of 80 samples from 80 randomly selected butcher shops were sampled in 6 months study period of time, from May to October. Each sample was accompanied by questionnaires. The meats were taken to the laboratory to measure pH and water holding capacity using the filter paper press and drip loss methods. The means and standard deviations of filter paper press and drip loss were found as 49.4 ± 5.85 and 4.58 ± 0.96, respectively. The age of the slaughtered animals had significant association (p<0.05) with the pH measured at 24 h post-slaughter, drip loss and filter paper press measurements. The pre-slaughter rest period had strong effect on pH (p<0.05) at 3 h post-slaughter. The present study concluded that water holding capacity and pH as quality indicators of meat are influenced by age and pre-slaughter rest of the slaughtered animals.
Key words: Age, drip loss, filter paper press, pH, pre-slaughter stress.