Study proves Scots meat quality

RESULTS OF a year-long study into the eating quality of Scottish meat offer the industry the chance to provide consumers with a more consistent product.

According to the Scottish Executive, which provided the 500,000 funding for the Meat Eating Quality Project, the research results have endorsed Scotland”s reputation as a quality meat producer.

Ross Finnie, Scotland”s rural development minister, said: “Producing the outputs which the food chain wants is the key to prosperity and sustainability. The message for farmers is that good practice exists but care must be taken to maintain standards and avoid factors that are known to impact negatively on eating quality.

“The message for processors particularly is that post-slaughtering handling has a major, positive impact on most attributes of beef and lamb eating quality.”

The research, led by SAC and involving scientists from Bristol and Newcastle universities, was good news for the industry and for consumers, Mr Finnie said.

“Our industry depends on quality production and we must do all we can to keep ahead of our competitors. This project represents an opportunity to do just that.” Jim Walker, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, the red meat quality assurance and promotion organisation, described the results, which represent the first national audit of the taste and tenderness of Scotch Beef and Lamb, as welcome news for the Scottish industry.

“This project was designed to find out if the use of the latest research ideas from around the world were both practical and successful in improving meat quality in a Scottish commercial situation. It has done this.

“The work proves that measures can be adopted by all Scottish farmers and processors that both meet their individual commercial needs and produce more consistent, tender meat,” said Mr Walker.

Isla Roebuck, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said his members fully supported the adoption of the enhanced meat processing practices that the study had shown to reduce variation in the end product quality.

“However, the importance of quality stock as the starting point for all meat processing activities remains the key for consistent end product quality,” he said, adding that up to 62% of the variations influencing eating quality identified in the trial were not attributed to the processing sector.