New research highlights differences in New Zealand beef

Pasture-raised beef is a cornerstone of the New Zealand meat industry. But do we really understand the benefits we get from the meat when it is raised this way?

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New research from the Riddet Institute indicates there are differences in meat quality relating to health and digestion, depending on how the animal is raised.

A research team led by Dr Lovedeep Kaur and Dr Mike Boland s from Massey University’s Manawatū campus compared the digestion differences between pasture-raised New Zealand beef to grain finished beef, and a plant-based alternative.

To mimic the human digestive tract, researchers used simulators in the laboratory to observe the differences.

They found differences in the fat content of the beef, potentially leading to better health outcomes. Continue reading

Tucking into beef could be good for your health – but not the planet’s

As the barbeque season gets into full swing, New Zealand researchers are investigating whether certain kinds of red meat could actually protect against heart disease.

Researchers have recruited men aged 35-55 willing to eat free meat three times a week for eight weeks in the name of science, according to a press statement from the Liggins Institute.

Participants are supplied with either grass-fed Wagyu beef, grain-finished beef or soy-based meat alternative (they can’t choose which).

The study is looking at how the complex lipids (fats) in high quality, unprocessed red meat affect heart health, using the vegetarian protein group as a control. It follows earlier evidence that eating Wagyu beef in moderation may help protect against heart disease. Continue reading

Texas researchers are working on how to produce the ideal steak

Brad Johnson, an expert on skeletal muscle growth in cattle at Texas Tech University, is involved in a study that might have found how to produce meat with just the right combination of leanness and flavour.

Professor Johnson, the Gordon W. Davis Regent’s Chair in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech, and Texas A&M professor Stephen B. Smith have discovered how to produce the most palatable cut of meat.

The key, Johnson said, is isolating a receptor in marbling adipocytes. These are fat cells juxtaposed to muscle tissue.

Activation of this receptor, called G-coupled Protein Receptor 43 (GPR 43), produces lipids, and lipids are the key ingredient in marbling.

“We feel if we can regulate this receptor in marbling, we can increase marbling without making the cattle fatter,” Johnson said.

“As the cattle make fat, the feed efficiency goes down and for consumers we trim off all the excess fat. But if marbling is what consumers want, we can increase marbling at different times in the feeding cycle without making the cattle fatter, and that would be a huge benefit for the beef industry.”

Distinct biological difference between backfat and marbling, which look much the same on a rib-eye steak, affects the palatability of beef.

Continue reading