Lipid oxidation leads to meat spoilage and has been reported to cause adverse changes in the flavour and texture of poultry meat. Vitamin E has been found to be effective in delaying lipid oxidation. The aim of this study was to determine whether the vitamin E supplementation of chicken feed influences the consumers' perception of the quality of chicken meat under normal display and storage conditions. Untrained consumers (n 32) evaluated cooked breast meat from chickens (both corn fed and wheat fed) supplemented with 75 250 or 500 mg/kg vitamin E and after storage at 4°C for 4 and 7 d. Factorial analysis found an interaction between vitamin E treatment and storage day upon the perceived juiciness (P=0·023) and tenderness (P=0·041) of the chicken meat. Perceptions of quality relative to vitamin E level were more evident on day 4 than day 7. When the two cereal types were compared, the time-related sub-group effects were observed only in meat from corn-fed chickens supplemented with either 75 or 250 mg/kg, which was perceived to be juicier (P=0·018) and more tender (P=0·020) than that supplemented at the 500 mg/kg level. These results imply that the two lower concentrations of vitamin E have some advantages over 500 mg/kg, but for optimal consumer acceptance of corn-fed chicken meat, we suggest that 250 mg/kg vitamin E should be added to corn-fed poultry feed. There was no evidence to suggest any advantages in changing the current amount of vitamin E (75 mg/kg) used to rear wheat-fed birds.
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