Manipulating beef quality through feeding

Author: E.C. Webb
Year: 2006
Issue: 1
Volume: 7
Page: 5 - 15

This presentation provides an overview of beef quality and the manipulation of beef quality through feeding. Beef consists of edible muscle, connective tissue and associated fat. The most important quality attributes of beef include the tenderness, other sensory characteristics, convenience and safety of the product. Both genetic and environmental factors affect beef quality. Although breed or type contributes significantly to the genetic variation in beef quality, nutrition is one of the most important environmental factors (Melton, 1990; Webb, 2003). Nutrition significantly affects the rate of conditioning and consequently carcass composition, conformation, meat yield and meat and fat quality. In addition to tenderness, the importance of fat quality has increased because it contributes towards the appearance, palatability, nutritive value, processibility, shelf life and ultimately the acceptability of beef.  Emphasis is increasingly placed on the production of edible lean with a minimum of excess fat, but reducing fat to too low levels may adversely affect eating satisfaction. Beef quality can be manipulated by a variety of nutritional interventions, many of which have been implemented successfully in feedlots world-wide. Perceptions of beef are often based on incorrect generalisations regarding its nutrient content and health implications. Although meat quality can reasonably be ensured through carcass evaluation, and the implementation of quality assurance systems (HACCP-system, ISO9001), the challenge is increasingly shifting to the implementation of appropriate technologies to produce consistently high quality beef. In this regard nutritional intervention is of the utmost importance, but emphasis should also be placed on pre- and post-mortem management, as well as farm conditions, transportation and using approved abattoirs that meet EU-requirements.

Keywords: beef fat, Beef quality, fatty acids, Feeding, Minerals, muscle, Vitamins
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