Skip to main content Accessibility help

European conformation and fat scores have no relationship with eating quality

  • S. P. F. Bonny (a1) (a2), D. W. Pethick (a1), I. Legrand (a3), J. Wierzbicki (a4), P. Allen (a5), L. J. Farmer (a6), R. J. Polkinghorne (a7), J.-F. Hocquette (a2) (a8) and G. E. Gardner (a1)...


European conformation and fat grades are a major factor determining carcass value throughout Europe. The relationships between these scores and sensory scores were investigated. A total of 3786 French, Polish and Irish consumers evaluated steaks, grilled to a medium doneness, according to protocols of the ‘Meat Standards Australia’ system, from 18 muscles representing 455 local, commercial cattle from commercial abattoirs. A mixed linear effects model was used for the analysis. There was a negative relationship between juiciness and European conformation score. For the other sensory scores, a maximum of three muscles out of a possible 18 demonstrated negative effects of conformation score on sensory scores. There was a positive effect of European fat score on three individual muscles. However, this was accounted for by marbling score. Thus, while the European carcass classification system may indicate yield, it has no consistent relationship with sensory scores at a carcass level that is suitable for use in a commercial system. The industry should consider using an additional system related to eating quality to aid in the determination of the monetary value of carcasses, rewarding eating quality in addition to yield.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Allais, S, Leveziel, H, Payet-Duprat, N, Hocquette, J-F, Lepetit, J, Rousset, S, Denoyelle, C, Bernard-Capel, C, Journaux, L, Bonnot, A and Renand, G 2010. The two mutations, Q204X and nt821, of the myostatin gene affect carcass and meat quality in young heterozygous bulls of French beef breeds. Journal of Animal Science 88, 446454.
Anonymous 2008. Accessory Publication MSA sensory testing protocols. From: Watson R, Polkinghorne R and Thompson JM 2008. Development of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) prediction model for beef palatability. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 1368–1379.
Bonny, SP, Gardner, GE, Pethick, DW, Legrand, I, Polkinghorne, RJ and Hocquette, JF 2015. Biochemical measurements of beef are a good predictor of untrained consumer sensory scores across muscles. Animal 9, 179190.
Conroy, SB, Drennan, MJ, Kenny, DA and McGee, M 2009. The relationship of live animal muscular and skeletal scores, ultrasound measurements and carcass classification scores with carcass composition and value in steers. Animal 3, 16131624.
Conroy, SB, Drennan, MJ, McGee, M, Keane, MG, Kenny, DA and Berry, DP 2010. Predicting beef carcass meat, fat and bone proportions from carcass conformation and fat scores or hindquarter dissection. Animal 4, 234241.
De Roest, K 2015. Beef production, supply and quality from farm to fork in Europe. In Proceedings of the 66th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science 31 August to 4 September, Warsaw, Poland, p. 230.
Field, RA 1971. Effect of castration on meat quality and quantity. Journal of Animal Science 32, 849858.
Fisher, A 2007. Beef carcass classification in the EU: an historical perspective. In European Association for Animal Production, pp. 19–30. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Dublin, Ireland.
Guzek, D, Głąbska, D, Lange, E and Głąbski, K 2014. Study of beef blade muscles’ differentiation depending on conformation and fat class. Turkish Journal of Veterinary and Animal Sciences 38, 195199.
Guzek, D, Glabska, D, Pogorzelski, G, Kozan, K, Pietras, J, Konarska, M, Sakowska, A, Glabski, K, Pogorzelska, E, Barszczewski, J and Wierzbicka, A 2013. Variation of meat quality parameters due to conformation and fat class in Limousin bulls slaughtered at 25 to 27 months of age. Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 26, 716722.
Indurain, G, Carr, TR, Goni, MV, Insausti, K and Beriain, MJ 2009. The relationship of carcass measurements to carcass composition and intramuscular fat in Spanish beef. Meat Science 82, 155161.
Legrand, I, Hocquette, J-F, Polkinghorne, RJ and Pethick, DW 2013. Prediction of beef eating quality in France using the Meat Standards Australia system. Animal 7, 524529.
Morgan, JB 1992. Tenderness problems and potential solutions. In Improving the consistency and competitiveness of beef: the final report of the National Beef Quality Audit, pp. 180–187. National Cattlemens’ Association, Englewood, CO, USA.
Polkinghorne, R, Thompson, JM, Watson, R, Gee, A and Porter, M 2008. Evolution of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) beef grading system. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 13511359.
Polkinghorne, RJ, Nishimura, T, Neath, KE and Watson, R 2011. Japanese consumer categorisation of beef into quality grades, based on Meat Standards Australia methodology. Animal Science Journal 82, 325333.
Polkinghorne, RJ and Thompson, JM 2010. Meat standards and grading: a world view. Meat Science 86, 227235.
O’Quinn, TG, Brooks, JC, Polkinghorne, RJ, Garmyn, AJ, Johnson, BJ, Starkey, JD, Rathmann, RJ and Miller, MF 2012. Consumer assessment of beef strip loin steaks of varying fat levels. Journal of Animal Science 90, 626634.
Soji, Z, Mabusela, SP and Muchenje, V 2015. Associations between animal traits, carcass traits and carcass classification in a selected abattoir in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Animal Sciences 45, 278288.
Strydom, PE 2011. Quality related principles of the South African beef classification system in relation to grading and classification systems of the world. South African Journal of Animal Science 41, 177193.
Thompson, JM 2001. The relationship between marbling and sensory traits. In Beef CRC Marbling Symposium 2001, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia, pp. 30–35.
Thompson, JM 2004. The effects of marbling on flavour and juiciness scores of cooked beef, after adjusting to a constant tenderness. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 44, 645652.
Thompson, JM, Polkinghorne, R, Hwang, IH, Gee, AM, Cho, SH, Park, BY and Lee, JM 2008. Beef quality grades as determined by Korean and Australian consumers. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 13801386.
USDA 1997. United States standards for grades of carcass beef. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC.
Verbeke, W, Van Wezemael, L, de Barcellos, MD, Kügler, JO, Hocquette, J-F, Ueland, Ø and Grunert, KG 2010. European beef consumers’ interest in a beef eating-quality guarantee: insights from a qualitative study in four EU countries. Appetite 54, 289296.
Watson, R, Gee, A, Polkinghorne, R and Porter, M 2008a. Consumer assessment of eating quality – development of protocols for Meat Standards Australia (MSA) testing. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 13601367.
Watson, R, Polkinghorne, R and Thompson, JM 2008b. Development of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) prediction model for beef palatability. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 13681379.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed