31 October 1997

Meat tastes same

TASTE-PANEL tests have failed to distinguish a difference in overall meat eating quality between beef breeds.

The results contradict claims that traditional British breeds such as the Aberdeen Angus have improved eating quality, says MLC meat scientist Kim Matthews.

Tests compared roasting joints and steaks from over 300 steers and heifers finished on an identical silage-based 18-month system at Genuss Warren Farm, Berks.

Four Continental crosses – Limousin, Charolais, Belgian Blue and Piedmontese – and two British crosses – Hereford and Aberdeen-Angus – were studied and slaughtered at three specific fat classes.

Fat class was chosen as the trigger to slaughter rather than age, because traditional British breeds mature earlier – and, therefore, lay down fat earlier – than their larger Continental counterparts.

"This meant a meaningful comparison of marbling fat, moisture and connective tissue could be made," says Mr Matthews.

Aberdeen-Angus crosses had the highest marbling fat, which has been linked to improved meat flavour while Belgian Blues had the lowest fat level.

"But in this trial the extra fat did not make a significant difference to meat flavour and juiciness.

Only the Belgian Blues showed any quality advantage."

with more tender meat than the five other crosses examined," says Mr Matthews.

He speculates that this could be due to double muscling, which in previous trials has been shown to influence tenderness on double-muscled Piedmontese cattle.