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Does selection for lean meat yield reduce the sensory scores of Australian lamb?

Pannier, L., Ball, A.J., Gardner, G.E. and Pethick, D.W. (2013) Does selection for lean meat yield reduce the sensory scores of Australian lamb? In: 64th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science, 26 - 30 August, Nantes, France.


Sensory enjoyment is one of the key drivers that influences the consumer demand for lamb in Australia. One of the key factors that determines consumer satisfaction of lamb is intramuscular fat (IMF). Yet the challenge is to balance this against the industry aim of selecting for lean meat yield using Australian Sheep Breeding values for post-weaning eye muscle depth (PEMD) and subcutaneous fat depth at the c-site (PFAT), as these have been shown to decrease IMF levels. Hence, we hypothesised that selection for reduced PFAT and increased PEMD will reduce the sensory scores of lamb and that this relationship is driven through reduced LMF levels. Sensory scores were generated on both the longissimus thoracis et lumborum (loin) and semimembranosus (topside) muscle from 1,434 lambs. Five day aged grilled steaks were tasted by untrained consumers who scored (1-100 score) the samples for tenderness, juiciness, flavour, odour and overall liking. Increasing PEMD was associated with 5.3, 3.6 and 3.1 lower sensory scores for tenderness, overall liking and flavour for both the loin and topside samples. Decreasing PFAT was associated with a 3.1 score reduction for tenderness within the loin samples only All sensory scores increased with higher IMF levels, most strongly for juiciness and flavour, however in this analysis variation in IME levels did not appear to explain the impact of either PEMD or PFAT. This illustrates that the associations seen between PEMD and PFAT with the sensory scores are not solely driven through the phenotypic impact of IMF, in contrast to our initial hypothesis. Yet in support of our hypothesis, selection for more muscular and leaner animals did reduce the sensory score, confirming our growing concerns that selecting for lean meat yield would reduce consumer eating quality. This highlights the need for careful monitoring of selection programs to maintain the eating quality of lamb.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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