Quality of retail beef from two grass-based production systems in comparison with conventional beef

Meat Sci. 2006 Jun;73(2):351-61. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2005.12.013. Epub 2006 Feb 28.


Seventy beef strip loins (Longissimus dorsi) were sampled, originating from labels prescribing pasturing (PS, suckler beef; PF, finished steers or heifers), from conventional production (CH, heifers; CB, young bulls), and from a label producing intensively fattened young bulls (LB) and prescribing specific husbandry conditions but not grazing. Samples were purchased in autumn and spring (1:1) from 33 retail stores in northeastern Switzerland. Colour was lightest in LB beef, while PS displayed the least intensive red. Shear force was low in pasture beef, with PF showing the lowest variability. Pasture beef was richer in n-3 fatty acids than beef of all other origins. The n-6/n-3 ratio was consistently below 2 in pasture beef, while it ranged above 5 in LB, and also in CH and CB when purchased in spring. Prescribing year-round feeding of grass products and the use of steers or heifers therefore guarantees n-3 enriched beef, which can be at least as tender as conventional beef.