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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2015 2016
CRC FOR SHEEP INDUSTRY INNOVATION ADVERTISING FEATURE A global approach to positioning lamb as a premium consumer product is a step closer, with the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) system attracting new international collaboration. Dave Pethick, Meat Quality Program Leader with the Sheep CRC, used a meeting of the International Meat Quality Congress in Paris, attended by 80 experts from 17 countries, to galvanise support for MSA as the common language for implementing new consumer research around the world. “ The aim of the congress was to encourage researcher and industry support for consumer-focused sensory assessment for beef and lamb quality with key international collaborating partners all using common protocols,” Prof. Pethick said. “ The workshop unanimously supported the need for evidence- based systems to underpin eating quality for lamb and beef in order to keep consumers purchasing products that are higher in price than the white meat competitors. “ We are now working towards a global model, which it has been suggested be called 3G for ‘Global Guaranteed Grading’, for sharing sensory data using the MSA protocols that can be used for scientific and for commercial purposes.” Prof. Pethick said that while many countries had meat quality assessment systems in place, MSA was the only system available to grade eating quality at the consumer level. “ The MSA approach differs markedly from other systems currently employed. Firstly, it is based on consumer responses and secondly, for beef, it independently grades each cut rather than applying a common grade to the entire carcass,” he said. Prof. Pethick is also leading a Sheep CRC research program aimed at implementing a cuts-based MSA grading system for the Australian lamb industry, with consumer testing currently underway in China and the United States to assess consumer taste differences, perceptions of various cuts and ages of sheepmeats, and the impacts of different cooking styles such as Asian hot pot methods. “ The MSA sensory tasting trials have been designed to test how consumers perceive the distinctions between lamb and yearling sheepmeat so that Australian producers can maximise value from young sheep currently downgraded for age due to the cutting of their first permanent teeth,” Prof. Pethick said. “As it stands two and four teeth sheep are currently downgraded in the Australian market to either hogget or even mutton, and are not able to achieve premiums near those for lamb. “ The cuts-based MSA grading system will aim to deliver more market options for sheepmeat, particularly yearling Merinos and lambs over 25kg in order to achieve the best alignment of our sheepmeat products with consumer demands in these critical export markets. “T he premium lamb product will always be the prime focus for our export markets, but we do believe there are potential market opportunities for older animals, as they can provide a very good eating experience regardless of breed. ” The consumer tests will use short loins, topsides and forequarters, with all cuts aged for 10 days then boxed and frozen for export. The cuts used will be of good quality and consistency, with a cooking style tailored to specific consumer groups. “In all countries the meat will be grilled, however we will also be using a hotpot cooking method, which is more common in China than grilling,” Prof. Pethick said. “T his involves thinly slicing the meat and passing it through a broth to cook it. For the trials we will use a relatively benign broth – not too spicy – as we want the taste of the meat to come through.” The CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation is co-funded under the Commonwealth Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program Leading a global approach to red meat research Professor Dave Pethick. DEXA measures lean meat yield The Sheep CRC has achieved a major breakthrough in its search for an accurate and cost-effective way to measure lean meat yield at line speed in the abattoir. The dual-energy X-ray (DEXA) predictions of lean meat yield are proving to be extremely accurate and, when used in conjunction with robotic carcase breakdown, are considered to be cost effective. Initial work testing an impedance probe to estimate intra-muscular fat as a measure of eating quality proved unsuccessful. However, good progress has been made in developing hyperspectral imaging as a potential alternative technology to the impedance probe. “ We are now well on our way to the goal of developing a cuts-based MSA grading system based on objective measurement of yield and eating quality,” Sheep CRC CEO James Rowe said. • More information is available at Sheep CRC’s website www.sheepcrc.org.au