Lamb IMF language plan gets conditional AUS-MEAT approval

Terry Sim May 31, 2021

A MEQ IMF probe being used on the GMP lamb chain.

CONDITIONAL approval has been given for a process to include a lamb intramuscular fat percentage trait in Australia’s AUS-MEAT language.

The Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee on 19 May received a draft submission outlining the current research into the importance of IMF to lamb eating quality, and how it would be measured and incorporated into meat grading in abattoirs.

The draft proposal included a chemical IMF percentage trait description, a ‘gold standard’ measuring method, device tolerance standards and abattoir accreditation/auditing requirements.

AUS-MEAT chairman Allan Bloxom said if IMF is to be used as part of the description language, AUS-MEAT needs to have the standards in place to be able to accredit and audit the equipment used to measure IMF in a plant.

“The industry, through the language and standards committee, have given full support to continue on with it.

“It’s full steam ahead as far as AUS-MEAT is concerned,” he said.

ALMTech principal investigator Dr Graham Gardner said the committee’s final approval is pending sign-off of a final submission at its next meeting.

Dr Gardner said research has shown that the chemical IMF percentage in lamb is a big driver of eating quality among consumers. In research trials to date, the chemical IMF percentage has been measured by a laboratory method which underpins the Australian IMF breeding value used in sheep selection.

“It is the gold standard trait, so we know that it drives eating quality in consumers, it is the value that has been tested.

“We also have it (the IMF trait) sitting inside the lamb Meat Standards Australia cuts-based model.”

Dr Gardner said the lamb MSA cuts-based model is ready to roll-out, but is waiting on the capability to measure IMF at chain speed in abattoirs.

He said the ALMTech Project has been trialling devices that can measure the chemical IMF percentage as calibrated to the laboratory measure. This has included the MEQ probe being used at Gundagai Meat Processors in New South Wales, a hyperspectral camera being tested in conjunction with JBS and an NIR device produced by a company called SOMA.

“The only thing that is missing is an accredited language (describing IMF).”

“Crucially, this language sets the goal posts that technology companies have to target when commercialising their IMF devices.

“This gives them the confidence to commercialise in the Australian lamb industry.”

Dr Gardner said two thirds of the predictions of an accredited IMF measuring device will need to be accurate within one IMF percentage unit of a ‘gold standard value’, and 95pc of the predictions have to be within two IMF percentage units. This level of accuracy would enable differentiation of a high IMF lamb group from the average Australian lamb, he said.

“The average lamb group in Australia is sitting around 4-4.5 percent IMF.”

Earlier this month Gundagai Meat Processors launched a world-first lean meat yield and intramuscular fat lamb grid with animal health feedback at the individual carcase level.






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