The effect of subcategories in the EUROP fat classification of lamb carcasses on meat quality




Guðjón Þorkelsson, Aðalheiður Ólafsdóttir, Eva Margrét Jónudóttir and Óli Þór Hilmarsson

Supported by:

Sheep farming development capital


Guðjón Þorkelsson

Strategic Scientist

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a 15-point fat evaluation of lamb carcasses on fat in the back muscle and its taste and texture. A small relationship was found between fat categories in the European assessment and fat in spinal muscles and fat explosion by visual assessment. Fat groups had rather little effect on taste and texture. Spinal muscles in fat category 3+ were significantly softer, more tender and juicier than from other categories. Spinal muscles from fat group 2- were the least tender and the least juicy of all the groups in the experiment. It is interesting that out of about 14.5% of carcasses of lambs slaughtered in the second slaughter at the experimental farm LBHÍ went to the European subcategory 3+. There are possibly opportunities to revise the fat classification and process this meat and sell it as a special quality product. Little fat was measured in spinal muscles or in the range 1.1% – 3.6% and on average 1.92%. The reason may be the young age at slaughter, the Icelandic sheep breed and possibly breeding for a lot of muscle and lean meat.

The effects of subclasses of EU fat classification of lamb carcasses on chemical fat, visual marbling scores and eating quality of loin muscle (m. longissimus dorsi) were studied. Correlation coefficients between fat classes, chemical fat content and marbling scores were low. The only effects of fat classes on eating quality were that class 2- had the least tender and juicy loin muscles and class 3+ loin muscles were the softest, most tender and juicy. 14,5% of the 317 carcasses of the lambs slaughtered were classified as 3+ according to the EU guidelines. Maybe there is an opportunity to review the rules in Iceland and separate the carcasses with the higher quality meat and market them as such. Intramuscular fat was low or from 1.1% – 3.9% and averaging 1.92%. The reasons may be young age at slaughter, the Icelandic sheep breed and maybe breeding for leaner meat.

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