CSU Researcher Studying Lamb Flavor
February 22, 2019

Cody Gifford, a Ph.D. candidate at Colorado State University, is using technology originally developed for surgeons to determine molecular differences in lamb and sheep meat cuts as it relates to taste.

He calls the first sheep flavor study completed at CSU a proof of concept study that ultimately proved that the molecular profile and muscle compounds can be used to differentiate differences among sheep muscle samples based on flavor.

This study utilizes Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry, a technology adapted to hook up to a mass spectrometer. Researchers are then using a pen to cauterize the surface of sheep meat samples, which generates smoke and allows the volatile chemical compound in the smoke to transport into the mass spectrometer. This results in a molecular profile of the chemical compounds.

To get this real-time data, Gifford and his team collected samples from 150 sheep, of those, 50 were lamb, 50 were yearlings, and 50 were sheep or mutton. Aside from age differences, the sample included different breed types, genders and finish types. The samples included fat side and lean side samples from the leg with the remainder ground and made into patties.

Volatile chemical compounds were gathered from each sample. With the remainder of the meat, the research team used a trained sensory panel to rate intensities of different flavor attributes. The two sets of data were then used in models to attempt to predict certain flavor attributes.

"This is the first study to validate whether we can use the instrument to predict flavor profiles of sheep meat products with a variety of live animal factors to give us differences in how we would be able to predict different flavor profiles," Gifford said.

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Source: The Fence Post