Wednesday, 03 May 2017 11:55

Bad taste? — Editorial

Written by 
Market development services manager at Alliance Group, Gary MacLennan. Market development services manager at Alliance Group, Gary MacLennan.

Does the New Zealand meat industry have a problem in some of our lamb products leaving consumers with a bad taste – namely ram taint?

Some farmers, and others in the sector, have raised such concerns, but it appears generally the industry itself is not concerned.

Critics claim that ram lambs, especially those used to service ewes and older than 12 months, have a ‘taint’ issue.

But both Silver Fern Farms and Anzco have dismissed the suggestion that ram taint is a problem, insisting that other issues are more important in determining quality and taste in lamb products.

This is backed up by recent research – part of a FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme with Silver Fern Farms, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Landcorp – which showed that lamb gender did not have a consistent or significant impact on taste.

The trial involved 4739 lambs from 16 properties nationwide, which provided 23,000 samples of loin, rump, topside and knuckle. These were subjected to a spread of chilled ageing and fed to 1800 consumers in NZ and 1440 in the US.

“Given the closeness in eating quality preference between rams, cryptorchids, wethers and ewes it would make little sense to exclude any from a premium value lamb offering,” the researchers said. “Through our consumer panel research very few consumers were sensitive to any ram-lamb effect.”

However, another major meat processor, Alliance Group, agrees with the concerns raised over ram taint in NZ lamb. Its market development services manager, Gary MacLennan, says while NZ lamb is number-one in the world with a range of products getting good feedback from chefs worldwide, we must ensure quality is maintained.

“We recognise there is an issue with both ram lamb and crypts over aging tenderness; we need to be doing better, perhaps looking at wethering if they are going to be killed later in the season,” he says.

Massey University animal and meat scientist Nicola Schreurs says many factors can influence lamb meat quality and ram versus castrated versus ewe is just one consideration.

Schreurs claims that no known flavour compounds had been associated with ram taint and it had not been independently and scientifically verified to occur in NZ-produced lambs.

So is it a problem or not?

Rural News would be interested to hear your views and whether (pardon the pun) this issue needs more investigation. We welcome your feedback: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

More like this

Alliance directors re-elected

Directors Dawn Sangster and Russell Drummond have been re-elected unopposed as farmer-elected directors of Alliance Group.

Bonus for Alliance shareholders

Farmer shareholder-owned meat company the Alliance Group has announced a bonus share issue following its positive report card.

Some up, some down, some firm

Lamb, sheep and deer prices are likely to remain firm, but cow and bull prices could soften, according to the Alliance Group’s projections for the new season.

Meat co-op roadshow coming

Meat cooperative Alliance is urging farmers to attend one of its 20 road-show events across the country in October.

 
 

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Tickled Pink

The Hound's editor was contacted by a Hawkes Bay sheep farmer about an item in the Oct 24 column on…

Gassed

This old mutt hears that his good mate and former chairman of failed meat industry ginger group, MIE, John McCarthy…

 

» Connect with Rural News

 
 

Markets

South Island wool sale eases

South Island wool sale eases

The 4700 bales on offer saw a 74% clearance with mixed results, however all prices paid locally are still above…

Wool continues to ease

Wool continues to ease

The 7250 bales of North Island wool on offer saw a 72% clearance with most types easing further.