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A survey comparing meat quality attributes of beef from credence attribute-based production systems

Markus, S.B., Aalhus, J.L., Janz, J.A.M., Larsen, I.L. (2011). A survey comparing meat quality attributes of beef from credence attribute-based production systems, 91(2), 283-294.


Two branded beef programs based on producer-defined production systems differentiated by intangible credence attributes (Organic and Natural) were compared with Commodity beef to determine meat quality and assess consumer acceptability. In each of four slaughter seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall) longissimus lumborum muscle samples were collected from two industry slaughter plants; Organic n = 30, 30, 27 and 31; Natural n = 30, 27, 29 and 25; Commodity 1 n = 12 and 18 for spring and summer, respectively; Commodity 2 n = 14and 12 for spring and fall, respectively. Samples were vacuum packaged and aged for 1692 d at 2oC. Seasonal effects (P<0.01) were evident for mean shear force, composition, drip loss, colour and pH. While all mean shear values were classified as being tender (<5.6 kg), a smaller proportion of steaks were classified as tender in the Organic beef compared with the Natural and Commodity beef (55.9 vs. 70.3 and 78.6%; P<0.01), indicating that even after industry normal ageing times there was higher tenderness variability in the Organic beef. Fat content (SEM_0.23; P<0.01) was lowest for the Organic line (3.98%) with Natural (5.34%) and Commodity being intermediate (5.73%). Some statistically significant differences (P<0.05) in mean scores for aroma, juiciness, flavour, tenderness and overall acceptability of cooked beef steaks were observed amongst the three production systems when samples were not matched on the basis of intramuscular fat (IMF). Clearly there are measureable differences in quality between "credence" based production systems and commodity beef with an overall better quality in Commodity beef. However, if the consumer is willing to pay for credence-based attributes then there is an opportunity for these production systems to improve the quality of their product, specifically in respect to age at slaughter and content of IMF.

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