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It is possible to predict the quality of veal


Carrying out measurements on carcasses – such as the thickness of the dorsal fat mass or the veining in the meat by means of ultrasonic technology - enables a determination to be made of the amount of fat or the flavour of the veal, essential parameters for establishing its quality. This is the conclusion of Gregorio Indurain Báñez in presenting his PhD at the Public University of Navarra. He proposes that it would be advisable to include these two variables in the current classification of carcasses in order to have a more exact economic evaluation which is in line with consumer demand.

Veal from Navarre

In Spain, as in the other countries of the European Union, the commercial value of beef is based on a visual assessment of the shape and fat content of the carcass. This is why this PhD has taken as its aim to investigate the usefulness of various additional measurements of beef carcass, in order to predict the quality of carcass and of the meat and, thus, to complement the current classification system for carcasses.

Research was carried on a wide sample of yearling calves of the Pirenaica (Pyrenees) breed, an autochthonous breed from Navarre highly considered by cattle farmers and consumers alike and the main source of meat sold under the Protected Geographical Origin label, “Veal from Navarre”. In the study of the sample, variables related to the fattening and the flavour of the meat were investigated.

A week of maturing

From the research the author concluded that both the thickness of dorsal fat – measured directly on the carcass -, and the veining in the meat - as measured by ultrasonic means - were related to the percentage of intramuscular fat or the veining in the logissimus dorsi muscle and, using this parameter, related to the composition of fatty acids and the aroma and flavour profiles of the meat.

As a result, the author recommends the introduction of these two variables into the current classification of carcasses in order to have a more exact economic evaluation which is in line with consumer demand. Nevertheless, he maintains that it is necessary to continue investigating ultrasonic technology in order to adapt it to the characteristics of the breeds and to the production systems in this country and thus develop all its potential.

The research also concludes that the carcasses sold under the “Veal from Navarre” label are relatively homogenous as regards shape (grade U or very good) and fattiness (grade 2 or little fat). The meat has a low percentage of fat and this fat, in turn, a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, known for being beneficial for the health.

The author suggests that it is recommendable for the kind of meat studied to hang the for approximately one week before being put on sale in order to be able to offer the consumer the product with the most optimum organoleptic properties possible. In this respect, he explains that the aroma and flavour of the meat is determined by 30 identified volatile compounds.

Finally, the new techniques employed in this PhD thesis require a series of specifications such as those of safety, precision, speed of measurement and durability so that they can be used with regularity by all in the sector involved in beef production.

Garazi Andonegi | alfa
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