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National Research Council (US) Committee on Technological Options to Improve the Nutritional Attributes of Animal Products. Designing Foods: Animal Product Options in the Marketplace. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1988.

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Designing Foods: Animal Product Options in the Marketplace.

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The Role of Fat in the Palatability of Beef, Pork, and Lamb

J. W. SAVELL and H. R. CROSS

Within the past two decades, fat in the diet has come under scrutiny with respect to its role in coronary heart disease and other health-related problems. Recent recommendations have centered on eating moderate amounts of lean red meat, but there is a problem with consumer acceptance when fat is absent from meat. Meat that is tough or dry or that does not taste good probably will not be eaten, even by people on restricted diets. Thus, some fat is necessary to ensure that meat is enjoyed when eaten, but the level should be low enough so that meat can be included in a restricted diet.

In this paper we describe the role of fat in improving the tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of beef, pork, and lamb and recommend the minimum level of fat necessary to ensure consumer acceptability.

Fat's Influence on Tenderness, Juiciness, and Flavor

The most comprehensive review of fat and palatability to date is that of Smith and Carpenter (1974), who summarized how fat affects tenderness, juiciness, and flavor in meat. Following is a brief description of these mechanisms.

Tenderness

Of the three factors influencing the tenderness of meat—actomyosin effect, background effect, and bulk density or lubrication effect—only lubrication effect deals with fat. It is associated with the amount and distribution of intramuscular fat, or marbling. Marbling probably influences meat tenderness based on the individual or collective effects of the following mechanisms (Smith and Carpenter, 1974):

Bite theory. This theory suggests that within a given bite-size portion of cooked meat, the occurrence of marbling decreases the mass per unit volume, lowering the bulk density by replacing protein with lipid. Because fat is much less resistant to shear force than is coagulated protein, the decrease in bulk density is accompanied by an increase in real or apparent tenderness.

Strain theory. As marbling is deposited in the perivascular cells inside the walls of the perimysium or endomysium, the connective tissue walls on either side of the deposit are thinned, thereby decreasing their effective width, thickness, and strength.

Lubrication theory. Intramuscular fats, present in and around the muscle fibers, lubricate the fibers and fibrils and so make for a more tender and juicier product that potentiates the sensation of tenderness. Thus, tenderness is closely associated with juiciness.

Insurance theory. The presence of higher levels of marbling allows the use of high-temperature, dry-heat methods of cooking and/or a greater degree of doneness without adversely affecting the palatability of the meat. Marbling thus provides some insurance that meat that is cooked too long, too rapidly, or incorrectly will still be palatable.

Relationship Between Fat and Tenderness

Based on their review of the data, Smith and Carpenter (1974) found that fatness had a moderate relationship to tenderness in pork and a low to moderate relationship to tenderness in beef and lamb.

Juiciness

Juiciness is made up of the combined effects of initial fluid release and the sustained juiciness resulting from the stimulating effect of fat on salivary flow (Weir, 1960). These two factors can be described as follows (Bratzler, 1971): (1) initial fluid release—the impression of wetness perceived during the first chews, produced by the rapid release of meat fluids, and (2) sustained juiciness—the sensation of juiciness perceived during continued chewing, created by the release of serum and due, in part, to the stimulating effect of fat on salivary flow. According to Pearson (1966), the initial fluid release is affected by degree of doneness and method of cooking, while sustained juiciness is related to intramuscular fat content.

Fat may affect juiciness by enhancing the water-holding capacity of meat, by lubricating the muscle fibers during cooking, by increasing the tenderness of meat and thus the apparent sensation of juiciness, or by stimulating salivary flow during mastication (Smith and Carpenter, 1974).

Relationship Between Fat and Juiciness

According to Smith and Carpenter (1974), fatness has a moderate relationship to juiciness in lamb, a moderate to high relationship to juiciness in pork, and a low to moderate relationship to juiciness in beef.

Flavor

Hornstein (1971) believes that fat may affect flavor in two ways: (1) Fatty acids, on oxidation, can produce carbonyl compounds that are potent flavor contributors, and (2) fat may act as a storage depot for odoriferous compounds that are released on heating. Volatile compounds released from fat or produced from triglyceride or phospholipid fractions may be responsible for the species-specific flavors of beef, pork, and lamb. Smith and Carpenter (1974) stated that although the basic meaty flavor is nonlipid in origin, some quantity of fat is undoubtedly necessary to make beef taste rich, full, and "beefy,." Smith et al. (1983) stated that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) beef quality grades are related to flavor of beef because grade indirectly assesses the extent to which flavor and aroma compounds are likely to be present in the meat.

Relationship Between Fat and Flavor

Fatness has a low relationship to flavor in lamb and a low to moderate relationship to flavor in pork and beef (Smith and Carpenter, 1974).

Specific Research on Pork, Lamb, and Beef Palatability

This section covers pertinent information on species-specific research that helps to determine how much fat is necessary for acceptable palatability. The work that is reported is from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and represents a portion of the palatability/grade/ consumer acceptance research conducted on pork, lamb, and beef by the Meats and Muscle Biology Section during the past three decades.

Pork Palatability Research

The study by Davis et al. (1975) with 403 pork loins showed that when three categories of loins were created based on marbling level ("typical-Modest" or higher, "typical-Slight" to "Modest-minus," and "Slight-minus'' or lower), scores for juiciness and overall satisfaction were significantly lower in the "Slight-minus'' or lower category. Juiciness, tenderness, and overall satisfaction ratings were significantly higher for chops from loins that were from the "typical-Modest" or higher category. Davis et al. (1978), using the same sample of pork loins used by Davis et al. in 1975, designed a system for segmentation of fresh pork loins into quality groups of "Superior," "Acceptable," or "Inferior." Using the sirloin end as the scoring surface, loins that were light in color, that were soft, and that had low marbling scores were rated as "Inferior," while those with intermediate color, firmness, and intermediate to high levels of marbling were rated as "Superior." With respect to the level of marbling necessary in pork longissimus dorsi muscle to ensure acceptable palatability, Davis (1974) recommended between 3.5 and 4.5 percent intramuscular fat.

Lamb Palatability Research

In a study of lamb rib chops, Carpenter and King (1965) evaluated the influence of cooking method, marbling, color, and core position (for Warner-Bratzler shear determinations) on tenderness. Chemical fat was determined on the rib chops and was stratified by marbling score of the longissimus dorsi muscle as follows: Practically Devoid = 2.05, Traces = 2.49, Slight = 3.15, Small = 3.54, Modest = 4.10, Moderate = 4.79, Slightly Abundant = 4.39, Moderately Abundant = 5.17, and Abundant = 6.67. Tenderness (as measured by the Warner-Bratzler shear machine) was most affected by cooking method and core position. Highly significant correlations were found between tenderness and the fat content of the longissimus dorsi muscle, but the coefficients were of low magnitude.

Lamb carcass quality was extensively evaluated by Smith et al. (1970a,b) and Smith and Carpenter (1970). Smith et al. (1970a), in evaluating the palatability of leg roasts, found that individual or combined USDA scores for carcass quality—feathering, flank streaking, firmness, and maturity—were associated with less than 15 percent of the variation in overall satisfaction ratings. Segmentation into USDA quality grades indicated that roasts from Prime carcasses possessed the highest percentage of desirable ratings and the lowest percentage of undesirable ratings for juiciness, tenderness, and overall satisfaction compared with the other grades evaluated. Small and inconsistent differences appeared between roasts from carcasses in the Choice and Good/Select grades, but leg roasts from Utility carcasses were decidedly inferior in palatability to those from the higher USDA grades.

Smith et al. (1970b), in the companion study on palatability of rib, loin, and sirloin chops, found that segmentation into USDA quality grades indicated that chops from Prime carcasses were superior to those of the other grades in percentage of desirable ratings for juiciness, tenderness, and overall satisfaction. As grade decreased from Prime through Good/Select, there were corresponding decreases in the proportion of chops considered desirable in juiciness, tenderness, and overall satisfaction. With the exception of scores for tenderness, differences between chops from Good/Select versus Utility carcasses were small.

When Smith and Carpenter (1970) collected chemical data from a sample of carcasses used in the studies by Smith et al. (1970a, b), they found that differences in intramuscular fat were associated with significant changes in juiciness, tenderness, and overall satisfaction ratings for all the cuts studied. Based on the conclusions of three studies, increased fatness was generally associated with increased palatability, but fatness appeared to have a greater impact on the cuts from the rack and loin than on the cuts from the leg.

Jeremiah et al. (1971) evaluated the impact of chronological age and marbling on the palatability of individual muscles from leg steaks of lamb. Marbling appeared to be of little consequence in determining the tenderness of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, or semimembranosus muscles of the leg, but chronological age was highly related to the tenderness of these muscles. The authors concluded that increased marbling was of little importance for increasing the tenderness of leg muscles, but that increased marbling was associated with higher juiciness scores for the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and semitendinosus muscles.

Smith et al. (1976) evaluated the influence of fatness—subcutaneous and marbling—on the palatability of lamb. They found that lamb carcasses that have increased quantities of fat chill more slowly, maintain muscle temperatures conducive to autolytic enzyme degradation for greater periods of time postmortem, sustain less shortening of sarcomeres, have muscles with lower ultimate pH values, have less perceptible or softer connective tissue, and are more tender than lamb carcasses that have limited quantities of subcutaneous or intramuscular fat. The authors theorized that deposition of increased quantities of subcutaneous or intramuscular fat (particularly in carcasses with limited quantities of subcutaneous fat) increases tenderness by changing postmortem chilling rate. Thus, an increased quantity of fat decreases the rate of temperature decline, enhances the activity of autolytic enzymes in muscle, lessens the extent of myofibrillar shortening, and thereby increases the ultimate tenderness of cooked meat from a fatter carcass.

Beef Palatability Research

Physical, Chemical, and Histological Studies

Davis et al. (1979) investigated variations in tenderness among beef steaks from carcasses of the same USDA quality grade to better understand why some steaks are less palatable than others even when the USDA quality grade is the same. For Choice, A maturity beef loins, the most tender steaks had more intramuscular fat, less intramuscular moisture, higher water-holding capacity, and a lower fragmentation index. Intramuscular fat percentages for steaks from the four tenderness groups of Choice, A maturity beef loins were as follows: very tender = 7.6 percent, moderately tender = 6.1 percent, slightly tender = 5.6 percent, and slightly tough = 4.4 percent. For Choice, B maturity beef loins, very tender steaks had 7.2 percent fat while slightly tough steaks had 5.6 percent fat. Although in the other grade/maturity groups, other physical, chemical, and histological factors were more important than fatness, high tenderness scores were most often associated with intramuscular fat percentages of 6 to 8.

Time-on-Feed and Beef Palatability

The length of time that cattle are fed high-concentrate feeds is associated with increased palatability, irrespective of quality grades. Tatum et al. (1980) reported that rib steaks from high Choice and average Choice carcasses were juicier, more flavorful, and overall more palatable than steaks from low Good/Select and high Standard carcasses; however, steaks from low Choice, high Good/Select, and average Good/Select carcasses did not differ in palatability. Increased time-on-feed was associated with increased carcass maturity, increased fat deposition, decreased yield grade, and increased percentage of carcasses grading Choice. Increased feeding time from 100 to 160 days had a beneficial effect on flavor desirability but did not significantly affect juiciness, tenderness, or overall palatability. Tatum et al. (1980) suggested that a knowledge of feeding history may be a useful adjunct to—or substitute for—USDA quality grade for predicting beef palatability.

Dolezal et al. (1982a), in a study of feeding groups of steers and heifers for periods ranging from 30 to 230 days, found that extending feeding time beyond 90 to 100 days did little to ensure additional palatability. Within time-on-feed strata from 100 through 230 days, few differences in palatability were found between rib steaks from carcasses of different USDA quality grades. Dolezal et al. (1982a) recommended that the minimum marbling requirement for the Choice grade could be lowered with no appreciable loss in palatability if it was stipulated that cattle had been fed a high-concentrate diet for at least 90 days.

Subcutaneous Fat Thickness and Marbling

Several studies have been conducted that explored the combined role of subcutaneous fat and marbling in the palatability of beef. Tatum et al. (1982) found that compared with marbling, fat thickness was ineffective as a predictor of cooked beef palatability and, therefore, would appear to be an unsuitable substitute for marbling. However, marbling, used in combination with a minimum subcutaneous fat thickness constraint of 7.6 mm for carcasses with a Slight amount of marbling, facilitated more equitable stratification of carcasses according to their expected palatability than did marbling alone. Dolezal et al. (1982b) found that assigning carcasses to three expected palatability groups based on fat thickness was at least equivalent to, and perhaps slightly more precise than, the use of USDA quality grades for grouping the carcasses according to expected palatability. There were progressive increases in palatability of cooked beef as fat thickness of carcasses increased from less than 2.5 to 7.6 mm, but quantities greater than 7.6 mm did not further improve palatability.

In studies involving young bulls, Riley et al. (1983a,b) found that the combination of subcutaneous fat and marbling was an important factor in the determination of beef palatability. Subcutaneous fat thickness was found to be more important than "masculinity" in ensuring that beef from young bulls would be acceptably tender (Riley et al., 1983a). Riley et al. (1983b) recommended that the USDA grade standards for beef could be revised to allow those carcasses with Slight marbling and at least 7.6 mm of fat thickness to grade Choice, irrespective of sex. When steaks from Standard bulls and steers and steaks from Good/Select bulls and steers that had less than 7.6 mm of fat thickness were compared with steaks from Choice steers or steaks from Good/ Select bulls with at least 7.6 mm of fat thickness, they were found to be significantly less palatable (Riley et al., 1983b).

USDA Beef Quality Study

In the mid-1970s, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station conducted a comprehensive study for the U.S. Department of Agriculture on USDA beef quality grades and palatability. This study involved 1,005 carcasses ranging in maturity from A to E and in marbling from Moderately Abundant to Practically Devoid. In their report on the effect of maturity groups on palatability, Smith et al. (1982) found that in comparison to carcasses of B, C, or E maturity, carcasses of A maturity produced broiled steaks that had higher palatability ratings in 62 to 86 percent of comparisons, were decidedly less variable in sensory traits, were more likely to be assigned high (> 6.00) and less likely to be assigned low (< 2.99) sensory panel ratings, and were more likely to have low (< 3.63 kg) shear force values. They found that position within the A or A + B maturity groups explained < 4 percent (loin steaks) and 10 to 18 percent (round steaks) of the observed variation in overall palatability ratings and/or shear force values.

In the report on the relationship between marbling and palatability, Smith et al. (1984) found that as marbling increased from Practically Devoid to Moderately Abundant, loin steaks were more palatable about two-thirds of the time, round steaks were more palatable about one-eighth of the time, and loin steaks were more likely to be assigned high (>6.00) panel ratings and to have low (< 3.63) shear force values. However, increases in marbling from Slight to Moderately Abundant (A + B maturity) had little or no effect on percentage incidence of loin or round steaks with panel ratings < 2.99 or > 4.00, or with shear force values > 6.35 kg or < 4.99 kg. Differences in marbling explained about 33 percent (loin) and 7 percent (top round) of the variation in overall palatability ratings in A, B, C, and A + B maturity carcasses.

Smith et al.'s (1987) report on the influence of USDA quality grades on beef palatability indicated that Prime carcasses produced loin and round steaks that were more palatable than the steaks from Choice through Canner carcasses in 85.7 percent of comparisons and more palatable than the steaks from Choice through Standard carcasses in 69.0 percent of comparisons. Comparable percentages were 71.4 percent (for Choice through Canner), 42.9 percent (for Choice through Standard), 74.3 percent (for Good/ Select through Canner), and 35.7 percent (for Good/Select compared to Standard). Among Prime through Standard carcasses, grade predicted flavor, tenderness, and overall palatability of loin steaks with 30 to 38 percent accuracy, but could only explain about 8 percent of the variation in sensory panel ratings or shear force values of round steaks.

National Consumer Retail Beef Study

The National Consumer Retail Beef Study was an industry-wide program supported by government, producer, feeder, packer, and retailer segments of the industry (Cross et al., 1986). The program was led by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station of the Texas A&M University System with coordination of the Beef Industry Council of the National Live Stock & Meat Board and the National Cattlemen's Association. The beef industry, identified two challenges to achieving a market-driven orientation: What are the demands of specific segments of consumers, and what kinds of beef will satisfy them?

The relationship between quality grade and taste appeal was first addressed by Savell et al. (1987). The study (called Phase I) was carried out in Philadelphia, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Steaks from carcasses that varied in marbling were evaluated by 540 households. For the first time, a nationwide study was conducted to see (1) if consumers, rather than trained sensory panelists, could detect differences in palatability of steaks that differed in marbling and (2) if there were regional consumer preferences for steaks according to level of marbling. Results showed that consumers could detect palatability differences due to marbling and that there were indeed regional differences with respect to the way consumers rated steaks that differed in marbling. Consumers in all three cities rated steaks with high marbling the same. Consumers in San Francisco and Kansas City gave consistently high ratings that were only slightly reduced as marbling decreased from Slightly Abundant to Traces. But ratings given by Philadelphia consumers were sharply reduced as marbling decreased. Thus, it appeared that different consumer market segments might need to be identified to more effectively reflect consumer tastes in each city.

Because the information gathered in Phase I addressed only one issue in the selection of beef—taste—specific demands for the other major selection criteria—price and leanness—remained unanswered. Therefore, it became necessary to conduct further research (Phase II) to determine (1) what amount of taste, if any, would be sacrificed by the consumer to obtain the leanness advantages of lower grading beef and (2) what degree of external fat trim would consumers seek and be willing to pay for.

Phase II of the National Consumer Retail Beef Study (Cross et al., 1986; Savell et al., in press) was conducted in San Francisco and Philadelphia (the two cities in Phase I with the greatest difference between consumer ratings of steaks from the various marbling levels). With respect to the marbling or quality grade findings from Phase II, retail cuts from Choice and Good/Select carcasses were rated equally high for consumer acceptance, but for different reasons. Choice retail cuts were rated high in taste, but when objections were voiced, they concerned fatness. Good/Select retail cuts were rated high in leanness, but ,when objections were voiced, they concerned taste or texture. A major recommendation from this study was to merchandise the two grades of beef based on their strengths—Choice should be marketed for its taste appeal and Good/ Select for its leanness.

Minimum Fat in Meat Needed Fob Acceptable Palatability

Before a recommendation can be made with respect to the level of fatness needed for acceptable palatability, it is important to know how much chemical fat is present in steaks from the various marbling levels. Savell et al. (1986) reported the amount of chemical fat in the uncooked longissimus dorsi muscle of 518 beef carcasses that ranged in marbling from Moderately Abundant to Practically Devoid (Figure 1). Mean values for chemical fat ranged from 10.42 percent in Moderately Abundant to 1.77 percent in Practically Devoid. The authors generated a regression equation to calculate the amount of chemical fat in a raw loin steak for known marbling level:

Figure 1. Marbling score and ether extractable fat.

Figure 1

Marbling score and ether extractable fat. Note: MAB is moderately abundant; SLAB, slightly abundant; MD, moderate; MT, modest, SM, small; SL, slight; TR, traces; and PD, practically devoid.

Image img00027.jpg

For this equation (r2 = 0.78), marbling score is converted to a numerical code where Moderately Abundant = 800-899, Slightly Abundant = 700-799, Moderate = 600-699, Modest = 500-599, Small = 400-499, Slight = 300-399, Traces = 200-299, and Practically Devoid = 100-199. Using the equation, the amounts of fat in Traces, Slight, Small, Modest, and Moderate are 1.74, 3.00, 4.28, 5.55, and 6.82 percent, respectively. These levels of fat are low compared with the 10 to 50 percent levels in processed meat products.

The key question asked of us was, what level of fatness is necessary for acceptable palatability? After reviewing the research we have conducted over the years under many different circumstances and with many different objectives, we conclude that the minimum fat percentage required for acceptable palatability of broiling cuts (rib, loin, sirloin, and so on) is 3 percent on an uncooked basis (associated with the minimum Slight degree of marbling). As in all biological relationships, there is no magic point where at one concentration or level something is acceptable and at the next increment it is not, but our findings are based on the overwhelming evidence of many observations where steaks with less than 3 percent animal fat (or the marbling levels associated with less than 3 percent fat—Practically Devoid and Traces) are tougher, drier, and less flavorful, whether evaluated by trained panelists or by consumers. Note that this is only a minimum fat percentage for "acceptable" palatability; it is our belief that there are two other levels or plateaus of chemical fat associated with increasing palatability: approximately 5 percent (midpoint of the Small amount of marbling) and approximately 7 percent (the lower end of the Moderate amount of marbling). These hierarchical rankings in palatability as associated with increasing fatness allow the beef supply to be sorted into expected palatability groups that can best serve a segmented consumer market with widely varying tastes.

The following discussion will help to further defend our choice of 3 percent or Slight marbling as the minimum level of fat needed for acceptable palatability. Tatum et al. (1982) found that marbling had a low, but positive, relationship to all the palatability traits of beef, but that more than 90 percent of the steaks with Slight or higher degrees of marbling were desirable in tenderness, flavor, and overall palatability. In unpublished data generated by the USDA Beef Quality Study, the relationship between actual chemical fat levels and overall palatability shows a distinct downturn in ratings once fat is below 3 percent. The relationship between overall desirability ratings and marbling level for the three cities used in Phase I of the National Consumer Retail Beef Study supports our contention that once marbling drops below minimum Slight, consumers are likely to find the meat less palatable. Finally, in Phase II of the National Consumer Retail Beef Study (Cross et al., 1986; Savell et al., in press), although consumers could detect differences in taste between steaks and roasts from Choice and Good/Select, they still rated those from Good/Select (Slight amount of marbling) very high in overall acceptance primarily because of the leanness and absence of waste of the cuts.

Our recommendation of a minimum 3 percent fat is only for those cuts from the rib and loin. Palatability evaluations of cuts from the chuck and round fail to show strong relationships between fatness and palatability. Griffin et al. (1985) found that consumers could detect differences in palatability between steaks from the rib and loin of higher grading steer carcasses when compared with steaks from lower grading bull carcasses, but that they could not detect differences in palatability between roasts from the chuck and round from the two groups. Smith et al. (1984, 1987) reported that neither marbling nor quality grade was closely associated with the sensory panel ratings or shear force values of steaks from the round. Overall palatability of the strip loin does reach a point—at minimum Slight—that the ratings start to diminish quite drastically, but the overall palatability ratings for the top round are fairly level from Slightly Abundant to Practically Devoid marbling. Therefore, it is our opinion that in young cattle, there is no minimum level of marbling or chemical fat necessary to ensure acceptable palatability for cuts from the round or chuck, primarily because of the way they are cooked (moist-heat roasting, braising, pan frying, and so on) and because of lower consumer expectation for these cuts compared with higher priced steaks from the rib and loin.

Although the data for minimum chemical fatness are not as well documented for pork and lamb as they are for beef, because most studies have focused their attention on the relationship between general fatness of carcasses and palatability, we still recommend a minimum level of 3 percent chemical fat for those cuts from the loin of pork and from the loin and rack of lamb. Most of the studies mentioned earlier in the sections on pork and lamb found that there were certain levels of fatness where undesirable chops were encountered. Chemical fat is less important for palatability in the cuts from the shoulder and leg of pork or lamb because in pork they are further processed and in lamb they are most often roasted, which probably minimizes the influence of fat on palatability. For lamb leg roasts, we recommend a minimum of 2 percent chemical fat to ensure acceptable palatability.

Maximum Fat Allowable in Meat for Acceptable Nutritional Merit

The point at which fat stops being an asset (in terms of taste) and starts becoming a liability (in terms of health) must also be considered. We conclude that the maximum amount of fat that should be present in cuts of meat to ensure nutritional merit is 7.3 percent (uncooked basis). We arrived at this figure based on the following assumptions:

  • An intake of 2,000 kcal/day;
  • No more than 30 percent of calories from fat, based on the American Heart Association's Dietary Guidelines;
  • Of the calories from fat, no more than 25 percent from fat in beef, pork, and lamb;
  • No more than 600 kcal from fat and no more than 150 kcal from fat from red meat;
  • A maximum of 16.6 grams of fat from red meat per day;
  • Two servings per day from the meat group, based on good nutrition practice; and 4 ounces, uncooked, per serving;
  • 16.6 grams of fat divided by 226.8 grams (number of grams in 8 ounces) = 7.3 percent chemical fat in uncooked portion.

Based on these calculations and our recommendations of 3 percent minimum fat, Figure 2 was developed, which shows the "window of acceptability" of fat in meat products. This target is amply wide, since it allows most cuts from carcasses that grade low Good/Select to the middle of high Choice to qualify. In addition, smaller or fewer servings of red meat per day would accommodate a slightly higher fat level without exceeding the American Heart Association's Dietary Guidelines. This "window" will cause some controversy from those who are proponents of fat for taste reasons (minimum level set too low) and those who are opponents of fat for health reasons (maximum level set too high), but we feel that these levels are very realistic goals from both production and consumption points of view.

Figure 2. Window of acceptability for fat content of meat (palatability versus grams of fat, two servings).

Figure 2

Window of acceptability for fat content of meat (palatability versus grams of fat, two servings). The window is based on a fat content range of 3 percent to 7.3 percent. This is equivalent to meat cuts that grade in the lower range of Good/Select (3 to (more...)

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Copyright © 1988 by the National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK218173

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