The measurement of o-tyrosine levels in poultry meat is a potential method for postirradiation dosimetry of poultry. The validity of using o-tyrosine for this purpose has not yet been established. As part of the validation process, the o-tyrosine content in unirradiated chicken meat, the radiation dose response curve, and the effects of postirradiation storage on o-tyrosine levels are examined.

In 18 individual samples, the mean background level of o-tyrosine was 0.18 ± 0.11 ppm (wet weight, 70% moisture), and the most frequent background level (60% of the cases) was between 0.05 and 0.15 ppm (wet weight, 70% moisture). In pooled samples of 10 chickens, the mean background level was 0.12 ± 0.03 ppm (wet weight, 70% moisture). The levels were not significantly affected by storage at 5°C (7 d) or by freezing the sample. The radiation dose response curve was linear within the dose range studied (0 to 10 kGy), with a slope of 0.127 ± 0.003 ppm (wet weight)/kGy. Although there was some variation in the intercept (0.132 ± 0.013), the slope was the same in all samples tested. Postirradiation storage at either 4 or 8°C until spoilage did not affect the levels of o-tyrosine. These data indicate that o-tyrosine level may be useful for determining the absorbed dose in chicken meat gamma-irradiated to doses greater than 0.6 kGy. Further validation studies are continuing.

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