Putting taste to the test

In a trial comparing eating quality of beef in terms of tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall likeability, pure-bred Holstein steers hung for 21 days came out on top compared to three-quarter bred Charolais cattle.

The trial, carried out by Francis Lively of the Agricultural Institute of Northern Ireland, investigated effect of breed, hanging technique and ageing time on a range of hindquarter muscles.

The 40 Holstein and Charolais cross steers were offered ad-lib grass silage supplemented with 4.5kg concentrate for 98 days prior to slaughter.

“After slaughter, one side of each carcass was randomly allocated to one of two hanging techniques, either Achilles tendon or tenderstretch.

Sirloin, rump and topside steaks were cut from the carcasses, vacuum packed and aged for either seven or 21 days.”

Sensory assessment scores showed all attributes were significantly higher for Holstein carcasses compared with Charolais, he told delegates.

“Hanging carcasses by the tenderstretch method also gave higher values and all attributes increased when aging increased to 21 days.”

Scores for tenderness, flavour and juiciness were higher for cuts from the anterior portion of the sirloin, rather than the posterior, which Mr Lively said was indicative of hanging technique.

“The topside cuts performed worst, resulting in tougher and less juicy scores.”

A further study showed that, for the two breeds used in the study, improving conformation lead to improvements in eating quality.”

Comparing the two hanging techniques, increased carcass weight gave higher eating quality scores when hung by the tenderstretch method compared to the Achilles tendon method.”

When asked why he felt Holsteins outperformed Charolais in terms of eating quality, Mr Lively said that in all instances cuts from Holstein carcasses showed more marbling compared to Charolais crosses.