A team of farmers, scientists and researchers are using technology to assess and improve meat quality, to ensure that consumers are getting the leanest and tastiest lamb chops.
Using data from sheep which have been CT (Computed Tomography) scanned, AHDB and its partners at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are able to measure the fat and muscle content of sheep. The method provides a sustainable approach by passing on favourable genes for generations to come, enabled by AHDB’s Signet Breeding Services.
CT scanning is just the tip of the iceberg according to AHDB, which has also been using other technology in its range of approaches to assess meat-eating quality. These include an electronic ‘bite test’, known as a texture analyser, which is used to test the tenderness of meat and the wider industry has been working with video image analysis (VIA), which detects and quantifies carcase composition and saleable meat distribution.
AHDB’s head of Animal Breeding and Product Quality Kim Matthews said: “We’d like consumers to know the farming community works tirelessly to provide the best in sustainable quality.
“Our work is focused on delivering genetic evaluations that will enable the industry to become more efficient and provide high quality produce.
“To those outside of the farming community, CT scanning might appear a novel technology, but we now have decades of data behind us and future advancements hold great potential for the industry. We have a role to help the public understand how innovation is used to deliver the products that they pick up on the shelves.”
Kirsty McLean, manager of SRUC’s CT Scanning Unit, said: “The CT machines are accurate enough to measure everything from spine length, to eye muscle area, to intramuscular fat levels – all of which is taken into account when working out how to produce the best-tasting meat.
“We’re then able to provide breeders with Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for these traits to help choose the best rams, and ultimately the best in quality for the product that ends up on your plate.”
This work is part of a wider strategy to further improve meat quality and help increase consumption of beef, lamb and pork.
As part of this, AHDB is also running campaigns including CheekyBeef.com to encourage young consumers to use thin cut steaks as part of quick and easy recipes. LovePork.co.uk will have another £2.5 million phase of its three-year campaign later this year, and a new campaign funded by EU partners, ‘Lamb: Try it, love it’, will begin in July running until October.