Testing of Meat Standards Australia's quality system. Comparison of the quality of unfrozen and frozen lamb meat.




Guðjón Þorkelsson, Aðalheiður Ólafsdóttir and Óli Þór Hilmarsson

Supported by:

Sheep farming development capital


Guðjón Þorkelsson

Strategic Scientist

Information on the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) quality and marketing system for lamb was compiled and their consumer testing methodology was tested and compared with conventional sensory evaluation of fresh and thawed lamb loin muscles. The fresh meat was both lighter and redder than the thawed meat. This is important in retail when consumers choose meat for cooking. Shrinkage during storage and shrinkage during heating was much greater in the thawed meat. The fresh meat had more softness, tenderness and juiciness than the thawed meat. The frozen/thawed meat was not tenderized like the fresh meat. This shows the importance of wasting before or after freezing. However, there was no difference in consumer ratings of tenderness, juiciness, taste and overall palatability between fresh and thawed lamb. The assurance of taste quality through the management of critical control points, the differentiation of meat carcasses, cuts and muscles and pricing and labeling according to taste quality are fundamental aspects of MSA's activities. The system was established in response to declining sales and consumer dissatisfaction with the taste of the meat, but also to reach new target groups of consumers who are willing to pay a higher price for high quality, thus contributing to increased value in the lamb value chain. There should be opportunities here in the entire value chain of lamb meat in Iceland.

Information on Meat Standards Australia (MSA) cut based lamb classification and marketing scheme were collected and analyzed. MSA consumer testing protocol was tried on fresh and frozen lamb loins and compared with traditional sensory analysis. The fresh loin muscles had a lighter and redder color than the thawed loins. The thawed loins had higher storage and cooking loss. The fresh loins were in sensory analysis softer, more tender, and juicier. The thawed meat was not aged before heating whereas the fresh meat was aged for 6 days. This shows the importance of aging the meat before freezing or after thawing. This was not demonstrated in consumer testing where there was no difference between fresh and thawed meat in tenderness, juiciness, flavor and overall liking.  

The MSA cut and cooking method based scheme was developed through collaboration between industry and research by defining best practices through the identification and monitoring of critical control points for eating quality. It covers all aspects of the supply chain from producers, processors, and retailers to food service operators. This allows product quality to be improved and match customer requirements. The MSA schemes for both beef and lamb were designed to respond to declining sales and consumer complaints about variable and sometimes poor quality of the meat. It is also designed to classify meat based on eating quality and to identify consumer groups willing to pay more for high quality meat and thereby adding value to all links in the supply chain. This approach should also be applicable and create new opportunities to increase value in the lamb supply chain in Iceland. 

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