Some friends of mine believe that different ways of killing an animal may reduce the quality of the meat; in particular, a violent death produces a tougher meat, maybe caused by the adrenaline released in the tissues of the animal.

I think it's a urban legend. Does animals killing method affect the meat quality?

  • Anaerobic metabolism (such as when animals try to run away from the hunter) results in build-up of lactic acid in muscles. Could this be the primary cause? Mar 24, 2014 at 19:21
  • Growing up in a rural environment, I've heard this claim many times in regards to the killing of both livestock and wild game. You would have to find a study that either quantified whatever chemicals contribute to "gamey" flavor (maybe lactic acid as Jan mentions above) or a study that ran a blind taste test on animal-based foods slaughtered under different conditions.
    – GHP
    Mar 24, 2014 at 19:30
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    While I doubt it's the answer, religion may be an origin (in part if not in totality) for this. Several religions require animals to be slaughtered in a specific fashion in order to be "safe," such as kosher meats.
    – Brian S
    Mar 24, 2014 at 20:51
  • Bluefin tuna are hunted with electrical harpoons which supposedly prevents an adrenaline surge supposedly tastable by sushi connoisseurs. Apr 13, 2014 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is truth. This is well known in rural enviorements, pigs is a clear example of this. The reason are stated in this study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United nations:

The energy required for muscle activity in the live animal is obtained from sugars (glycogen) in the muscle. In the healthy and well-rested animal, the glycogen content of the muscle is high. After the animal has been slaughtered, the glycogen in the muscle is converted into lactic acid, and the muscle and carcass becomes firm (rigor mortis). This lactic acid is necessary to produce meat, which is tasteful and tender, of good keeping quality and good colour. If the animal is stressed before and during slaughter, the glycogen is used up, and the lactic acid level that develops in the meat after slaughter is reduced. This will have serious adverse effects on meat quality

Spoilage of meat

It is necessary for animals to be stress and injury free during operations prior to slaughter, so as not to unnecessarily deplete muscle glycogen reserves. It is also important for animals to be well rested during the 24-hour period before slaughter. This is in order to allow for muscle glycogen to be replaced by the body as much as possible (the exception being pigs, which should travel and be slaughtered as stress free as possible but not rested for a prolonged period prior to slaughter). It is important that the glycogen levels in the muscles of the slaughtered carcass are as high as possible, to develop the maximum level of lactic acid in the meat. This acid gives meat an ideal pH level, measured after 24 hours after slaughter, of 6.2 or lower. The 24h (or ultimate) pH higher than 6.2 indicates that the animal was stressed, injured or diseased prior to slaughter.

This condition is called PSE (Pale, soft, exudative meat) which Wikipedia describes and explains it might be caused by stress prior to slaughter:

PSE meat, describes a carcass quality condition known to occur in both pork and poultry. It is characterized by an abnormal color, consistency, and water holding capacity, making the meat dry and unattractive to consumers. The condition is believed to be caused by abnormal muscle metabolism following slaughter, due to an altered rate of glycolysis and a low pH within the muscle fibers. Genetic predispositions and stress levels prior to slaughter are known to affect the incidence of PSE meat.

Also it looks like there other studies about this which conclude :

The results of recent scientific studies on pork quality should have a great impact on the entire swine industry from the producer to the packer to the consumer. The stress placed on pigs can be lessened with the proper management practices, which increases meat quality and benefits everyone

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    This reference doesn't, in turn, reference its claims. Are there any experiments that demonstrate that the flavour of the meat is discernibly different?
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:29
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    @Oddthinking I thought Food and Agriculture Organization of the United nations was good enough to be cited as reference as they make their own studies but I added more references for the sake of completeness.
    – isJustMe
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:38
  • Of course - slaughtering an animal is murder. Therefore the animals flesh with have a low vibrational state. And in reality the flesh will of accumulated toxins from adrenaline released during the horrorfying last moments before its death. The more horrific it's death the more tainted it's meat. Source - Leighman Guru life experience and intuition. Apr 11, 2014 at 12:37
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    @Mr_leighman That's sarcasm, right? Apr 15, 2014 at 20:54
  • Yes a bit of sarcasm there. But unfortunately also I am deadly serious - create a hell for other beings on this planet and by natural Law you will reap what you sow. There is no escaping this for anyone of us. Apr 17, 2014 at 18:29

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