Welsh Lamb Aims to Stay a Step Ahead with Scientific Tenderness Test

State of the art technology is helping farmers in Wales to ensure the reputation of the country’s most famous product – Welsh Lamb.

Trials in Aberystwyth are assessing tenderness in the latest stage of the five year Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project, led by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), and funded by the Welsh Government and EU. The project will be used to help further improve the eating quality of PGI Welsh Lamb and results due at the end of the year will be used in industry discussions, to further enhance the quality and reputation of PGI Welsh Lamb as a world leading brand.

Welsh Lamb is analysed by scientists using the Warner-Bratzler shear force method

The scientific measurement of tenderness uses the world renowned Warner Bratzler Shear Force method. The analysis is being carried out by IBERS and AberInnovation at Aberystwyth University. It is a widely recognised instrumental measurement of tenderness and measures the physical force required to cut through precisely measured samples of cooked meat.

The analysis is part of a wider study that involves a combination of consumer panel tasting and scientific measurement to establish the qualities of tenderness, juiciness, flavour, aroma and overall liking in various samples of cooked lamb. The nutritional value will also be analysed.

The aim is to fine tune the elements of lamb production and processing that influence tenderness. Together with taste, tenderness is one of the most important factors that prompt consumer satisfaction and repeat purchase, with more than 75% of consumer panel members over 45 believing that tenderness is ‘very important’ when purchasing lamb.

HCC Senior Meat Quality Officer, Elizabeth Swancott, explained:

“Chump muscles are used for the Shear Force Project, allowing for a direct comparison of meat tenderness across different lamb types.

“We will have a total of 288 PGI Welsh lamb chump meat samples analysed by Shear Force and have a representative for the tenderness of those lamb samples.

“We’re halfway through the project now in terms of analysing samples. Lamb samples have come from 26 farms across Wales and we’ve worked with four major processors across Wales to have an integrated approach within the supply chain.”

The Shear Force project results will be combined with consumer scores taken at the previous taste panels to understand how meat tenderness can be impacted. By the end of the project 2,000 consumers will each have taste tested seven samples of lamb.

The scientific rigour employed in the Shear Force trials is yet another element in building the story of Welsh Lamb. The science behind the tenderness, as well as the taste, will help to reinforce the message that it ranks among the best in the world.

The Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project is one of three 5-year projects in the Red Meat Development Programme which is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.