Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Beef put to the taste test

It's not five star dining but Charles Sturt University (CSU) scientists are calling on people to put their taste buds to work for research into beef eating quality.

Bachelor of Animal Science (Honours) student Ms Veronika VicicResearchers from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation are running consumer sensory analysis sessions, or taste testing, of beef products in Wagga Wagga.

CSU lecturer in farming systems, Mr Michael Campbell said, "The Graham Centre has various projects investigating how different management, feeding regimes, breed and meat storage affects the eating quality of beef. While some factors affecting eating quality can be measured in the laboratory we need consumers to be part of the next phase of our research, to taste some of these beef products."

One of the things being put to the taste test is research examining the eating quality of Holstein meat, a breed normally associated with dairy production.

CSU Bachelor of Animal Science (Honours) student Ms Veronika Vicic's research will compare the carcass performance and eating quality of meat from Holstein steers with British breed beef steers fed a common diet.

"The Australian dairy industry slaughters more than 500 000 male calves per year, most are marketed as veal with carcasses ranging between 50 to 150 kilograms, and they are generally regarded as a low-value product," Ms Vicic said.

"There's potential to grow these steers out to higher weights, providing an opportunity for dairy farmers to expand and integrate their enterprise into the beef market.

"Commercial feedlot data from America indicates that Holstein steers consume less feed and can exceed performance and grading of traditional beef breeds, although their dressing percentage is lower.  There's also limited information about what consumers think about the meat and my research aims to provide some baseline data."

Ms Vicic's research has been approved by CSU's Human Ethics Research Committee and is supported by a Graham Centre Honours research scholarship.

One consumer sensory analysis session has already been run in September with more planned for October.