Consistent meat eating quality needs more focus, industry told

Meat eating quality is not given the focus that it should have, according to a leading expert on meat science.

Chairing the 14th Langford Food Conference (27 June), Professor Jeff Wood, emeritus professor of farm animal science at The University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Science, told delegates that the industry as a whole emphasised production, as well as addressing issues such as climate change. However, he said that “the quality, taste, tenderness and flavour of meat is really important to the consumers – and we’re not giving it as much emphasis as we should”.

The conference looked at the developments in Beef Meat Quality, investigating the science behind meat eating quality as well as demonstrating how this was being applied in practice.

Eblex’s head of research and development, Dr Kim Matthew gave an overview of the developments in the English beef industry, reviewing the factors that influence eating quality and can potentially be used as a specification in future and outlining the reasons for recent changes to the Quality Standard Mark.

Other speakers from within the industry included: Peter Boyes of Dovecote Park and Duncan Sinclair of Waitrose on the quality across the supply chain; Derek Kelly of Kelly Bronze Turkeys, whose beef project aims to replicate the success of his turkey business, by developing an enhanced beef flavour; and Richard Fuller of the Beef Improvement Group, who outlined the profitable production of high-quality beef.

From a scientific viewpoint, Professor Bruce Moss, of Queen’s University, Belfast compared the potential of two methods used to predict compositional aspects of meat on-line – near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) and Ramen spectroscopy – and their potential in predicting beef eating quality. He outlined the practical application of these two scientific measuring systems, and the pre- and post-slaughter handling and processing that need to be considered when developing prediction models.

Charlotte Maltin of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) outlined the practical advantages to industry that QMS hopes to deliver through the IMEQ project. This three-year project, currently being tested at a Scottish abattoir, has integrated different measuring systems including NIR and visual imaging analysis, with cutting-edge robotics to produce a measuring systems that work at line speed.

The School of Veterinary Science at Bristol University is one of the leading centres on meat sciences, and has been recognised for international excellence in research. A book of the papers presented at the conference will be published by Nottingham University Press, which can be ordered from the School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol.