Meat Science
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Contribution of lean, fat and degree of doneness to meat flavour



Tenderness, juiciness and flavour are the three factors on which consumers judge cooked meat. Flavour is often rated the most important, but is also the least understood. Meat flavour intensity can be affected by the lean-to-fat ratio, degree of doneness, lipid oxidation and other factors.

A US study had the multiple objectives of determining the influence of: (i) species lean and fat source and degree of doneness, (ii) the fat level, and )III) light and dark muscles, on flavour of ground product.

Patties were formed from lean and fat from pork and beef according to the experimental design, frozen, then stored in vacuum packs until evaluated by a sensory panel. Panellists scored cooked samples for the intensity of beef flavour, pork flavour, metallic/serumy or acidic/sour flavours.

Flavour was not affected by the degree of doneness (66OC vs 71OC). Beef flavour was highest in samples made with beef lean regardless of the species of the fat; and pork flavour was highest in samples made with pork lean. Beef flavour was not increased in all-beef patties formulated with higher fat levels, whereas increased fat in pork patties did increase pork flavour. Using light or dark meat did not impact flavour in either species.

The species-specific flavour has historically been attributed to the fat in meat products; however, these results indicated that the lean tissue may be the principle contributor to species flavour. Therefore increased fat content in meat products may not always lead to increased flavour.