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Lamb Scanning and Tasting to Improve Meat Quality and Waste

01 December 2014

UK – Latest technology will be employed to improve lamb taste and reduce waste by shedding light on fat deposition.

Giving consumers a tastier, less wasteful product is the desire of the new research project between retailer Morrisons and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Tasting panels and computer scanning are to differentiate between subcutaneous waste fat and intramuscular fat (IMF) stored between the muscle fibres.

David Evans of Morrisons expects the project to make a difference.

“This project will improve lamb eating quality, through optimising the laying down of intramuscular fat and reducing the rest,” said Mr Evans.

“Optimum IMF will improve taste and eating quality, while a reduction in the amount of carcass fat laid down will improve feed conversion efficiency, reduce the time it takes lambs to reach maturity and cut trimmed waste, for both butchers and consumers.”

Non-invasive images of lamb insides will be produced via CT scanning and Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, according to project leader, Professor Lutz Bunger.

He said, by using technology innovatively, useful information for sheep breeders will be gleaned about genetic traits for meat quality.

He added: “About 70 per cent of all UK slaughter lambs are cross-bred”.

“This approach, which uses an analysis of an animal’s genetic make up to estimate its breeding value has previously only been available to inform selection decisions in purebred, pedigree flocks.”

Explaining how the experiment will work, SRUC researcher Dr Nicola Lambe said: “Initially we will use taste panels and other proven tests to investigate the relationship between the new traits and meat eating quality.

“This will help us identify a ‘window of consumer acceptability’ and the optimum intra-muscular fat levels in lamb linked to taste.

“In the larger part of the project we will then develop ways to measure these traits efficiently and help breeders use genetic selection for higher taste and lower waste.”


TheSheepSite News Desk

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