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Inconsistent tenderness is one of the largest factors that influence the quality of beef. It plays a huge role in what distinguishes Tesco Value beef from Tesco Finest beef, I’m told by my meat-loving husband frequently……I’m a vegetarian you see and he likes to justify the extra expense!

To get more tender meat, the Japanese farmers of Kobe beef feed their cows beer and massage them daily. So some people are going to extreme lengths to get tender beef, but as no one fully understands the science behind the tenderisation process yet it can be a bit of a hit and miss affair.

A group of scientists based in Ohio State University in the US have set about fixing this information gap; using a functional proteomics approach to study the proteins in the muscles of 22 Angus cross steer cows. Using electrophoresis they have confirmed the identity and understand the function of some of the key proteins in the tenderisation process, as well as helped linked together some earlier findings.

In their paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the team say that they have taken a step towards a coherent mechanism underlying the tenderisation process, which could lead to farmers being able to bread cows with greater and more consistent tenderness.

Another thing that drew me towards this story is that the lead author is called Macdonald……..making me think of both the multinational fast food chain that sells huge amounts of beef burgers and the nursery rhyme ‘Old Macdonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O. And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O. With a “moo-moo” here and a “moo-moo” there. Here a “moo” there a “moo” ………..’

Nina Notman

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