Taste trials focus on effects of lamb stress

Last updated 09:22 29/05/2013

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A Southland meat company kick-started its taste trials last week by looking at the impact of livestock stress on meat quality.

Alliance Group's annual taste trials, held between May and November, are under way at the company's Lorneville plant, near Invercargill.

As part of the trials, eight panelists have been selected to judge lamb samples on their aroma, flavour, texture, succulence and overall acceptability.

Alliance Group development services manager Gary Maclennan said the first part of the trial looked at animals that experienced normal to low-level stress, and how it affected meat quality.

Transportation, animal handling and minimum rest time at the yard before slaughter could cause stress on animals, he said.

Stress could cause higher pH levels in the animals and make the meat darker in colour and dry in texture, Maclennan said.

Panelists did a blind test on two samples of meat in several rounds. Some animals had experienced levels of stress and others had experienced low- level stress.

In coming months the company would also look at the effects of packaging, diet, genetics, processing and weather on meat quality, he said.

Alliance Group's UK Sainsbury's graduate Natalie Quint spent six weeks with the company as part of the graduate programme.

Quint was involved in organising the taste trials and cooking and preparing the food for the panelists.

It was good to perform the taste trials, look at the judges' responses and see if the science matched the perception, she said.

Beef and venison meat quality will also be tested at the plant.

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- The Southland Times

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