The effects of carcass chilling and electrical stimulation on visual beef quality and palatability University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
The marketing of any product, including beef, consists of a two-step process that first involves a ‘customer’ and then a ‘consumer’ (Smith, 2008). For beef, the ‘customer’ or person with the intent to purchase will be influenced by appearance characteristics such as fat and meat colour; amount of drip; fat, bone and meat proportions; the type of packaging and relation of all these to price (Grunert, 2004; Ngapo, 2006; Cho, 2007). At home, the quality of the meat will be tested by the ‘consumer’ for palatability characteristics. Most consumer surveys suggest that eating quality (defined by most consumers simply as ‘taste’) is the primary driver of purchase decisions (Shook, 2008). Bindon (2001) confirmed that variability in palatability, particularly tenderness, was the main reason for the decline in beef consumption in Australia during the early 1990s. Likewise, variation in palatability is also the primary driver for the quinquennial National Beef Quality Audit conducted in the United States since 1991 (Morgan, 1991; Howard, 2013). The palatability of meat is described as the simultaneous experience of tenderness, juiciness and meat flavour (Koohmaraie, 2002). The Australian MSA grading
system that grades various cuts of the beef carcass according to expected eating quality has indicated ‘tenderness’ as the most important attribute, closely followed by ‘overall liking’, while ‘flavour’ and ‘juiciness’ contributed less to the MQ4 score modelled for this system (Watson, 2008a,b).