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Meat Scientist Questions Beta-agonists' Impact on Beef Quality

21 January 2016

ANALYSIS - Dr Wayne Vanderwert, a Missouri cattle producer with a PhD in Meat Science, said while he has no concerns about beta-agonists from a food safety standpoint, he is concerned about beta-agonists' impact on meat quality.

There's a lot of discussion about the economic advantages to using beta-agonists in terms of meat production, but there is also a need to consider the cost of use to the industry, said Dr Vanderwert.

"First, there's reduced palatability, so there's less consumer satisfaction and that costs the industry a lot of money. There's also less consumer confidence in our industry because we tend to use these products and the consumer would rather we didn't," he said. 

The use of beta-agonists has handed the bull market to one breed - Angus, Dr Vanderwert said. 

"Without these products we would be forced as producers to do more cross-breeding, and that would have huge benefits in terms of economic production, cow longevity, and less replacement," he said. 

According to Dr Vanderwert, beta-agonist products tend to increase muscle mass, including adding more connective tissue as well as an increase in collagen content in muscle, resulting in a decline in beef tenderness. 

"I love to eat beef and I love to cook, so I'm very conscious about the quality of the product we are producing in the beef industry," he said.  

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor



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