July 10, 2019

Meat Science and Muscle Biology Symposium Recap

Meat Science and Muscle Biology Symposium Summary

By: Jerica Hall

Value added products have been key to increasing the diversity of many agriculture products, animal protein products have not been immune to this movement. Recently, livestock producers and research scientists have seen the potential to increase the value of pork and beef through improving the nutrient profile, specifically through manipulation of the fatty acid profile. Striking a balance between improving the protein product while not compromising the integrity of taste and tenderness of the original protein has proven to be an intriguing research focus.

Elanco sponsored the ASAS meat science research award, Dr. Vogel of Elanco presented the award to Dr. Steven Shakelford for his work at USDA-ARS as a recognition of his career-long dedication to the meat science industry.

Dr. Steven Shackelford gave an invited award recipient talk titled: “Genomic Control of Fatty Acid Profile in Beef”. The criticism that beef has poor fatty acid profile of beef has aided in the public perception that beef is not an ideal protein. With a combination of data from two genetic selection studies a genome wide association study was conducted for the fatty acid profile for the n = 860 cattle who were genotyped using a variety of SNPs. From this study it was found that mysteric acid had the biggest effect to manipulating the fatty acid profile of beef, with the favorable genotype exhibiting a decrease in mysteric acid and palmitic acid along with a complementary increase in oleic acid. The fatty acid profile of beef can be altered, it is still unclear if this effect is great enough to impact human health. An important question moving forward with the research of manipulation of the fatty acid profile of beef is how it alters flavor.

Dr. Gylnn Tonsor spoke about “Consumer Beef Demand Determinants and Nutrient Content’s Role”. When it comes to marketing beef products the industry often confuses demand and consumption. Dr. Tonsor stressed an increase in consumption is not an increase as demand and the key to improving the profit for protein is an increase in consumption without a negative compromise of price. The study funded by Beef Checkoff comprising of multiple focus studies helped to create a direction for future investments into the beef industry to improve consumer demand. The first study was a focus on aggregate demand elasticity update to show for each percent increase in price the decrease in demand for the protein product. The current findings indicate that consumer demand is less price sensitive to substation of one protein source for another and more price sensitive to overall economic environment, beef is still the most price sensitive protein source. Additional studies included the effects of media and medical information effects on consumer perceptions and a food demand study focused on nutrition perceptions which revealed that consumers perceive beef to be a less nutritious protein source. Moving forward to better gauge success within the protein industry there must be a better understanding of demand versus consumption as an indication of growth. As the protein sector grows beyond traditional livestock protein sources to include alternative proteins the importance of taste and tenderness becomes even greater for beef products to differentiate from the competition.

A talk on “Biological Aspects of Altering the Fatty Acid Profile of Meat Products” was given by Dr. Derris Burnett. Dr. Burnett spoke to the effects that fat has on all aspects from farm to fork. Beginning with the production efficiency of the live animal we see a difference in energy metabolism based on the fat composition of the animal, the quality and yield grades are directly affected by the fat composition on the carcass at the packing plant, furthermore fat composition affects the quality of the processed product. The packaging conditions of protein products can be altered by the fat composition of the product, finally consumer perception of product presentation, health and eating experience are all impacted by fat composition of the final product. As a look to future direction the pork industry would benefit from precision approaches to predict marbling and target markets for marbled pork. When modifying fat composition of beef there are three primary determinates of fatty acid composition; age, genetics and diet. The microbiome of ruminates have an effect of fatty acids profiles and fat deposition within meat. Thus, coupling the genetic information of heritability of the microbiome data to improve predicative values for polyunsaturated fatty acids shows promise for improving the nutrient profile of beef.

Dr. Kelsey Phelps Ronningen spoke about “Effects of Altering Fatty Acid Profiles on Fresh Meat Color Stability”.  Outside of price, color is the single most important attribute consumers use to purchase meat and indicator of freshness. Through shelf life studies and TBARS conducted on steaks from cattle fed a marine algae additive used to shift the fatty acid profile of beef to a greater omega-3 content, it was discovered that greater oxidation rates occurred with steaks from cattle fed the algae additive. Additionally, throughout the shelf life study lower a* values occurred at d 7 and through d 10 (p > 0.05). The omega-3 fatty acids; Alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) play a large role in aiding brain development.  Therefore, there is an incentive to increase the omega-3 fatty acid content within traditional livestock products. While we have the means to alter the omega-3 fatty acid content of widely consumed meat products there must be consideration for the impact on color shelf life. To maintain color shelf life and improve the fatty acid composition of meat considerations for the industry include: including infusion of antioxidants during processing, supplementation of antioxidants within animal feed, close management of cold chain to maintain integrity of shelf life color or modified packaging to slow oxidation rates.

The symposium concluded with a talk by Dr. Jerrad Legako on the “Effect of Altering the Fatty Acid on Fresh Meat Palatability”. Palatability can be altered by the total lipid composition, lipid fraction, fatty acid composition and the degree of oxidation. Palatability is most often explained as tenderness, juiciness and flavor. Generally, consumers respond positively to an increase in total fat in middle meat cuts. When looking at fatty acids in relation to palatability an increase in fat content leads to a decrease in omega-3 and omega-6. It has been easiest to identify the negative effects of omega-3 manipulations. With fed omega-3 supplements there is a noticeable rancidity, increased fishy flavor and increase in TBARS with negative color shelf life effects on the protein product. As quality grade and fat content increase there is an increase in monounsaturated fatty acids and a decrease in polyunsaturated fatty acids for both polar and neutral lipids. Total lipids play an important role in palatability with increased oxidation rates leading to a less palatable and less well perceived product by consumers when the fatty acid composition is altered to increase omega-3 fatty acids. When altering the nutrient profile of beef we must consider the tradeoffs of taste, palatability and consumer perception of the final product as to not negatively shift demand.