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The eating quality of beef is influenced by sex and breed

Delivering beef of consistent quality to the consumer is vital for consumer satisfaction and will help to ensure demand and therefore profitability within the beef industry. Carcass traits such as ossification score, carcass weight and marbling explain the majority of the differences between breeds and sexes. Therefore, in this study previously published in Animal (2016), 10:6, pp 987–995, it was expected that these factors would explain the eating quality of bulls and dairy breeds with good accuracy. In total, 8,128 muscle samples from 482 carcasses from France, Poland, Ireland and Northern Ireland were MSA graded at slaughter then evaluated for tenderness, juiciness, flavour liking and overall liking by untrained consumers, according to MSA protocols (Watson et al., 2008). The scores were weighted (0.3, 0.1, 0.3, 0.3) and combined to form a global eating quality (MQ4) score. The carcasses were grouped into one of three breed categories; beef breeds, dairy breeds and crosses. Bulls had lower MQ4 scores than steers and females. Beef breeds had lower eating quality scores than dairy breeds and crosses for 5 out of the 16 muscles tested. Even after accounting for differences in carcass traits, bulls still differ in eating quality when compared with females and steers. Breed type also influenced eating quality beyond differences in carcass traits, which is not considered in the current MSA system. This should be taken into account in any potential model to predict the eating quality of beef in Europe.

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