In the present study, the efficacy of litchi fruit pericarp (LFP) extract (0.5%, 1.0% and 1.5% concentration) in retarding lipid oxidation of cooked sheep meat nuggets was evaluated and compared to butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT, 100 ppm). The total phenolic content and antioxidant potential of LFP extracts were determined. The thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) values were evaluated to assess the potential of LFP extracts as natural antioxidants for oxidative stability of cooked nuggets during 12 days of refrigerated storage. Results show that total phenolics content in 10 mg LFP powder was comparable to 100 ppm BHT, but 15 mg LFP powder had significantly higher (p
< 0.05) total phenolics content and reducing power than the synthetic antioxidant. LFP extract did not affect pH, cooking yield and the sensory attributes of cooked nuggets. Non-treated control and nuggets with 1.0% LFP extract had significantly lower total phenolics than nuggets with 1.5% extract and BHT. TBARS values were significantly lower (p
< 0.05) throughout the storage period in cooked meat nuggets containing either LFP extract or BHT than in non-treated control. Results indicate that LFP extracts are promising sources of natural antioxidants and can potentially be used as functional food additives in meat products at 1.5% without affecting products’ acceptability.
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