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European carcass grade does not relate to eating quality

European conformation and fat grades are a major factor determining carcass value throughout Europe. In this study published in Animal (2016) 10:6, pp 996–1006 the relationships between these scores and sensory scores were investigated. A total of 3786 French, Polish and Irish consumers evaluated steaks, grilled to a medium or a well-done doneness, according to protocols of the “Meat Standards Australia” system, from seventeen muscles representing 455 local, commercial cattle from commercial abattoirs. A mixed linear effects model was used for the analysis. There was a negative relationship between juiciness and European conformation score. For the other sensory scores, a maximum of three muscles out of a possible 17 demonstrated negative effects of conformation score on sensory scores. There was a positive effect of European fat score on three individual muscles. However, this was accounted for by marbling score. Thus, while the European carcass classification system may indicate yield, it has no consistent relationship with sensory scores at a carcass level. It is thus not suitable to pay livestock producers according to eating quality of beef as perceived by consumers.

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