Abstract #197

# 197
Postmortem factors relevant to veal quality.
Sloane Garcia*1, Chad Carr1, 1University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Veal represents a relatively minor percentage of the meat industry as a whole. During the past half century the veal industry has undergone considerable changes in production practices. Currently, grain-fed and heavier calves are the norm and many farms are converting to individual pens as opposed to group housing which, in addition to improving the conditions for the animals, has also improved the public’s perception of the industry. (1) It is generally accepted that meat quality is the most important indicator of financial returns on the product. In today’s world, the industry places strong emphasis on lean color in spite of the absence of scientific evidence validating a direct effect on quality. (2) This presentation will discuss the effects of post-mortem factors on veal quality. Factors associated with meat quality include carcass grade, aging, and packaging. According to the USDA, milk fed calves produced carcasses that were lighter in lean color and fatter, however these graded scores do not directly correlate with palatability. (1) Color determination plays a large role in quality determination, but data continues to show a poor relationship between color and taste. Attempts at quality improvements should evaluate factors such as aging and packaging for determining veal quality. Aging veal results in increases in tenderness, decreases in shear force, and increases in lightness and redness. Type of packaging and the time interval between slaughter and packaging has a profound effect on meat quality and shelf life. For example, packaging veal within 24 hours post-mortem yielded a product that was lighter and had a longer shelf life than similar meat that was packaged later. (3) In conclusion, the veal industry should be evaluating factors that directly affect quality of the product. Less emphasis should be placed on color when, ultimately, taste and tenderness of the meat should be the determining factors in assessing the value of the product. Public education may be in order because often the consumer’s perception of veal quality is based solely on the color of the meat in spite the lack of scientific evidence correlating veal color with meat quality.

Key Words: dairy, food, veal