1 December 1995

Going for quality consistency

A RATIONING blueprint to increase the chances of producing good eating quality beef could emerge from research underway in Scotland.

The Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen is using Charolais and Aberdeen-Angus steers, supplied by Glenbervie Aberdeen-Angus. The aim is to see if manipulating feeding during finishing can reduce the unacceptable variation in eating quality. This still occurs, even when Meat and Livestock Commission guidelines for animal handling, slaughter and hanging are followed.

Taste panels will evaluate the eating quality of beef from identical cattle finished on different regimes. The three diets will allow fast finishing, slow finishing, or slow followed by rapid growth.

The team, which is working in conjunction with Scottish Agricultural Colleges and the University of Newcastle, is funded by MLC and MAFF, and led by Dr Charlotte Maltin in Aberdeen.

It will also look at the characteristics of the fibres making up the striated muscle that is beef. Previous work with pigs suggested that variation in fibre characteristics, particularly fast oxidative glycolytic fibres, is involved in the variation in eating quality of pigmeat.

"We now want to find the precise influence of growth rate and breed on the eating quality of beef. The future of the industry depends on consistent repeat purchasing, and this partnership could help ensure this," said Dr Maltin.

The Rowett Research Institutes Dr Charlotte Maltin (seated) and Christine Cook are examining the influence of growth rate and breed on beef eating quality.