The beef colour depends on the concentration of myoglobin – the main haem dye. The myoglobin level in the cattle meat depends on the anima breed and age, and also on the animal activity during fattening. The ambient air temperature has also a certain impact on the meat colour – lower temperatures cause darker colour. Therefore, grazing on pastures is one of the most important factors affecting the meat quality. The cattle raised in Poland spends part of the time outdoors, grazing on the grass. The activity on pastures starts in early spring when the grass turns green and is about 10 cm high and lasts until autumn. Roughage feed (green fodder) from meadows abundant with various plants in Poland is traditionally used.
Polish beef is of low fat content, not exceeding 5%. An unquestionable advantage is also a high protein content, reaching 18-23% range. The beef contains many vitamins, mainly A, D, E, H, B12, B1 and B6. It also has more assimilable iron than meat of any other livestock.
The intramuscular fat that determines the beef marbling has a key impact on the final taste of the meat, its juiciness and aroma. It has been proved that appropriate breeding conditions can have a positive effect on the beef fat profile. The intramuscular fat consists of saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. In dietary terms also the presence of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) with proven pro-health activity (e.g. prevents cancer, allows a quicker metabolism of fatty tissue, improves the activity of the immune system) is important. Beef is especially rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), only lamb contains more of it.
Appropriate feeding strategy is the key for the beef nutritional value. A profitable modification of the fatty acids composition in the meat can be obtained due to slower cattle growth rate. This effect might be obtained by using green fodder, grazing on pastures or using feeds with vegetable oils added. Rapeseed and linen widely grown in Poland are oil plants, sources of alfa-linoleic and linoleic acids. Their addition to the feed leads to an increased level of these acids in the meat. By-products from oil production, such as rapeseed cake is also used for feeding cattle in Poland. The pasture feeding gives the cattle access to the feed rich in many species of grass, leguminous plants and herbs.
The beef tenderness is determined, among other factors, by cattle sex and age. Older animals develop cross-linked collagens, insoluble at high temperatures. The top limits for obtaining high quality beef is cattle age under 30 months. This is the beef (from animals less than 30 months old) that is sold to Japan according to the importers specification.
Post-slaughter operations are also important for optimal meat tenderness. Fresh beef is tough and firm. Proteolysis runs during the post-slaughter seasoning, the decomposition of muscle proteins is making the meat softer and more tender. That is why the seasoning is so important for the final product quality.
Meat seasoning can be performed in the dry and wet conditions. An appropriate time and temperature are the key here.
Means keeping the meat in large portions, most often with bones, at a constant temperature (about 2-4 degrees Celsius) and appropriate air humidity of about 80% for a few weeks. Meat loses water during that time, particularly from surface layers which are cut off later. The loss of moisture means also a lower final weight of the meat which increases its price. Choice of the appropriate seasoning conditions depends on numerous factors, for example sex and age of an animal.
Means keeping parts of the carcass portioned for steaks in vacuum packaging. The meat is kept in a fridge for a few weeks. In vacuum packaging the meat does not lose moisture, but the protein decomposition processes still occur, making the meat more tender and keeping it juicy.
Polish exporters can deliver to their Japanese partners good quality beef, with high sensory parameters and suitable for further culinary processing according to the expectations of the importers. Contact to companies authorized for exporting beef to Japan here.