Beef Taste, Tenderness 'Marred' By Hormones

AUSTRALIA - Growth hormones have a "negative influence" on tenderness, taste and quality of beef, according to a recent CSIRO study.
calendar icon 29 December 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

A 20-page paper published in the journal Animal Production Science says the main commercial benefit of using growth hormones in cattle is cheaper feed costs, but meat must be aged for up to 28 days to "overcome the detrimental hormonal growth promotant effect". The industry average is usually about seven days.

According to the Canberra Times CSIRO study, by its livestock industries division in Queensland, follows an earlier report by the Beef Cooperative Research Centre a peak industry research body based at Armidale in central NSW which found growth hormones reduced tenderness, "especially in the main grilling cuts".

The research centre study also found hormone treatment reduced marbling, which is an important trait in securing high quality beef export markets in Japan and Korea.

The study found consumer taste tests could easily detect the difference between meat from hormone-free cattle and feedlot cattle treated with growth hormones.

And it says these findings are not new, with peer-reviewed studies conducted more than 60 years ago showing growth hormones had "a negative effect on beef palatability".

The research centre's taste tests reported "a very significant drop" of up to 10 points in scores given by consumers when rating the tenderness of hormone-treated beef.

It also found meat from hormone-treated cattle "does not improve as quickly during ageing" and residues from hormone implants "are higher in internal organs such as livers, than in the muscle".

Coles has angered beef industry lobby groups by announcing its national supermarket chain will stock only hormone-free beef from next year.

The supermarket giant has been working for 18 months to build a dedicated hormone-free beef supply chain, and will be Australia's first national food retailer to sell exclusively hormone-free beef.

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