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Organic Consumers Association

Organic Grass Fed Cows May Provide Healthier Beef, but Consumers Are Not Keen on Taste

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Meat from grass-fed organic dairy steers may be of greater nutritional quality than conventionally raised steers, but falls below standard in overall consumer liking and flavor tests, according to research.

The study examined and compared the fatty acid profiles, meat quality, sensory attributes, and consumer acceptance of beef from dairy steers raised using either conventional, organic, or grass-fed organic methods.

Led by corresponding author Bradley Heins from the University of Minnesota, the team revealed that the fat from the grass-fed steers was greater in Omega-3 fatty acids and lower in monounsaturated and saturated fat, but noted that consumers rated the grass-fed beef lowest in overall liking and flavor.

"As consumers are demanding natural, local, organic, and grass-fed animal products, an opportunity exists for organic dairy producers to capitalize on the growing organic beef industry," wrote the team.

Despite the finding that grass-fed organic meat was the lowest in terms of consumer acceptability in the USA, the team did note that 43.9% of consumers had at least a slight liking for the grass-fed steaks.

"Organic dairy bull calves may represent a potential resource for pasture-raised beef ... an alternative to conventional feedlot-raised beef," they said.

However, Heins and his colleagues noted that the quality and consistency may need to be improved before consumers will accept the beef.

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