Test For Tender Gene Discovered

FRANCE - French scientists have developed a genetic test that could help processors chose cattle they say will result in the tenderest meat possible.
calendar icon 25 September 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Scientists at the France's government-funded agricultural research institute (INRA) said they have discovered a relationship between the expression of a gene (DNAJA1) and meat toughness.

The tenderness of beef, its flavour and its taste, depend not only on slaughter conditions and the ageing of meat, but also on the biological characteristics of muscle, which in turn are linked to the genetic traits of the animal, its rearing conditions and particularly its diet.

However, the biological criteria used until now have been insufficient to explain the considerable variations observed in beef quality, the scientists stated. The lack of data has made it difficult to ensure a processing plant gets a consistent quality of meat.

The results, which have now been patented, open the way to developing a genetic or immunological test which could identify cattle with potential to produce tender meat, the scientists stated on the INRA internet site.

The size and shape of a piece of beef, its colour, the amount of fat visible and the fineness of its texture are the principal criteria which, together with the purchase price, condition consumer choice.

However, these characteristics do not provide information as to the sensory qualities of the meat - including tenderness, juiciness and flavour after cooking.

About 30 per cent of the variability of meat tenderness can be explained by differences in the muscle characteristics of animals, the scientists stated.

"Identifying new biological characteristics of muscle with a marked influence on meat quality is thus a major challenge for the butchery industry, particularly since these criteria could be integrated in breeding schemes for cattle," the scientists suggested.

Source: FoodProductionDaily.com

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