Consumer assessment of lamb eating quality in the US



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In order to evaluate lamb eating quality in the United States, two separate trials were devised to investigate marbling level, postmortem aging period, country-of-origin, and muscle on consumer eating quality. Consumer sensory analysis was performed to evaluate the effects of three targeted marbling levels [LOW, Intermediate (MED), and HIGH] and two postmortem aging periods (21 d and 42 d) on the palatability of lamb loin chops as determined by U.S. consumers and to determine the relationship between carcass fat indicator traits, intramuscular fat percentage (IMF), and palatability traits. There were no interactions between marbling and aging for any of the scores for palatability attributes, their acceptances, or between the quality category ratings (P < 0.05). Consumers rated HIGH treatments (P < 0.05) as more tender, juicier, and with greater flavor and overall liking than MED or LOW, which were similar (P > 0.05). Aging also influenced (P < 0.05) all traits, as consumers scored 21 d samples greater for all palatability traits than their 42 d counterparts. A greater (P < 0.05) percentage of consumers categorized 42 d samples as unsatisfactory and fewer as better than everyday or premium quality. A larger proportion of consumers categorized HIGH samples as premium quality than MED or LOW and fewer called HIGH good everyday quality compared to MED (P < 0.05). Flank streaking, marbling score, and IMF were all influenced (P < 0.01) by target marbling level in a linear fashion. Increasing marbling score, more so than flank streaking, was positively linked to increasing eating quality scores. Also, tenderness, juiciness and flavor liking are major drivers for consumer sensory scores for overall liking, with flavor liking having the strongest relationship to overall liking of lamb. Overall, consumers preferred HIGH marbling over LOW and MED marbled loin chops, but had difficulty distinguishing between LOW and MED. Furthermore, extended postmortem aging of lamb loin is not recommended based on reduced scores for eating quality traits.
To evaluate the effects of three countries-of-origin (Australia, New Zealand, and United States) and two muscles (semimembranosus and longissimus lumborum) on palatability of lamb loin and leg chops, consumer sensory analysis was conducted by U.S. consumers. For tenderness, flavor, and overall liking, there was an interaction detected between country and muscle (P < 0.05). Overall, US loin chops had the highest (P < 0.05) consumer sensory scores, were rated the most acceptable (P < 0.05), and were placed in better than everyday quality or premium quality categories more often than all other treatments. Australian (AUS) and New Zealand (NZ) leg samples were rated the lowest (P < 0.05) for consumer sensory scores for tenderness, flavor liking, and overall liking, as well as being the least acceptable (P < 0.05) for flavor liking and overall liking. Both country and muscle impacted (P < 0.01) juiciness scores, as well as tenderness and juiciness acceptability. U.S. chops were juicier and more acceptable for tenderness and juiciness than AUS or NZ chops, regardless of muscle; consumers rated loin chops juicier and more acceptable for tenderness and juiciness than legs chops, regardless of country (P < 0.05). Consumers were able to detect differences in palatability between country-of-origin and muscle. U.S. consumers preferred domestically sourced lamb over AUS and NZ when comparing tenderness, juiciness, flavor and overall liking. Loin chops were preferred over leg chops for all palatability traits. It is recommended that U.S. consumers should purchase U.S. lamb loins for a better eating experience.



Consumer, Country-of-origin, Lamb, Longissimus, Semimembranosus, Loin, Marbling, Postmortem aging