Sheepmeat flavour is characterised by distinctive species derived odours and flavour notes derived from the diet termed as ‘pastoral’ for pasture-based farming systems. An exploratory investigation was undertaken to determine if the flavour attributesof sheepmeat could be altered by short-term dosing of sheep with fresh or concentrated herbs. Twelve animals were dosed with 9 different fresh and/or concentrated herbs over 3 days. The animals were slaughtered, sub-sampled, and chemical analyses of levels of flavour compounds in the subcutaneous fat were performed along with sensory evaluation of the meat samples by a trained panel. From the sensory evaluation of the meat samples, the two animals that received the garlic powder supplement were described by the panellists as ‘garlic’,and these samples were significantly less intense in ‘sheepmeat’ (P=0.001) and ‘sweet’ (P=0.007) flavours and also had increased ‘barnyard’ (P=0.011) and ‘foreign’ (P<0.001) flavours. Subcutaneous fat skatole and indole levels for these animals were found to be significantly higher (P<0.001) compared to those grazingryegrass. Other treatments were not significantly different in sensory evaluation. A garlic powder dose response trial was then carried out with 5 sheep receiving between 0 and 200 g/day of powder for two days. After slaughter, subcutaneous fat skatole levels were found to be elevated for animals receiving >50 g/day garlic powder. The results indicate that dosing sheep with garlic powder has a detrimental effect on the animal’s ability to detoxify and remove skatole from the circulatory system, with consequent detrimental effects on the overall sensory quality of the meat. Thus a herbal dietary supplement to either mask undesirable flavours of sheep meat, or impart desirable flavours, is yet to be discovered.

K, Fraser, GA Lane, MR Kirk, RG Keogh, and TL Cummings

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 67, Wanaka, 413-419, 2007
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