The feed additive digestarom has for some years been added to poultry diets to improve feed conversion, growth rate and uniformity of growth as well as reduce mortality.

But German researchers have now found that the mixture of herbs and spices can also benefit the eating quality of chicken.

Renate Thieme and Steve Ladbrook of Micro-Plus carried out several trials in conjunction with Georg-August-University in Gottingen, Germany with a professional taste panel evaluating thigh and breast meat.

In their first trial, 120 as-hatched Ross 308 birds were randomly divided into a control group and a treatment group. After 32 days, 50 birds from each group were randomly selected for taste testing. The control group weighed on average 1562g and the treatment group was slightly heavier at an average 1610g, with a better carcass yield of 75.2% compared with 74.6% for the control.

For taste testing, the thigh meat was grilled at 180C and served to an 18-member, trained taste panel. The tenderness and general impression were significantly enhanced in the treatment group, with a strong tendency to more succulent meat (see table). This was supported by a more detailed follow-up trial where meat from the treated group was described 36 times as juicer or more tender than the control group.

Laboratory analysis revealed that the treatment samples tended to have a higher fat content of 1.25%. It is well known that the taste of meat is influenced by the level of intramuscular fat and its consistency.

A trial was also carried out in the UK comparing treated birds with chickens randomly selected from supermarket shelves. The taste panel showed a general preference for the treated birds in all aspects, including aroma, flavour, texture and aftertaste.

They concluded that the feed additive positively changed the eating quality of chicken, making it juicier and more tender.

Taste analysis of thigh meat (scale from 1 = superior to 4 = unsatisfactory)

Criterion Control Treatment
Tenderness 2.2 1.8
Succulence 2.3 1.9
Flavour/Aroma 2.3 2.3
General impression 2.4 2.00