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Love meat tender: researchers use scientific tenderness test to improve the quality of Welsh Lamb

23 May 2022 2 minute read
Photo by Nation.Cymru

Scientists at Aberystwyth University are conducting research to identify the key factors affecting the tenderness of Welsh Lamb.

The research is part of a five-year programme run by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and funded by the EU and the Welsh Government and results will be used to further improve the quality of Welsh Lamb.

The project looks at how on farm and processing factors affect the eating quality of lamb, as well as its nutritional value.

The current trial is investigating lamb gender effect and seasonality and follows two previous trials evaluating the effect of the muscle cut, breed type, meat ageing period and the lambs’ diet.

As part of the current trial, the texture of lamb meat is being assessed using the Warner Bratzler Shear Force method, which measures the physical force required to cut through precisely prepared samples of cooked meat to evaluate meat tenderness.

Fine tune

The aim of the research is to fine tune the elements of lamb production and processing that influence tenderness, which is  one of the most important factors prompting consumer satisfaction and repeat purchase.

The analysis of lamb meat tenderness is being carried out by researchers in IBERS and AberInnovation in the state-of-the-art facilities at the new AberInnovation campus at Aberystwyth University and is part of a wider study involving a combination of consumer panel tasting and scientific measurement to establish the qualities of tenderness, juiciness, flavour, aroma and overall liking in various samples of cooked lamb.

HCC Senior Meat Quality Officer, Elizabeth Swancott, said: “Samples have come from 26 farms across Wales and we’ve worked with four major processors to have an integrated approach within the supply chain and a representative of the Welsh industry.

“Tenderness can be influenced by many different factors across the supply chain, from farm to processing, packaging, storage, cooking and pre-slaughter stress.

“There are also processing factors, such as hanging methods.”

The results of the research will be included in a final report due at the end of the year and will form the basis for industry discussions to further understand what on farm and processing factors could be influencing the eating quality and potentially maximise meat tenderness.

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