“Lamb meat currently has a shelf life of only two or three days. While the meat is fine, consumers associate browning with a lack of freshness, so retailers are forced to mark down prices. This obviously costs the lamb industry economically,” Ms Calnan said.
“We know that discolouration is linked to marbling and high iron content, and vitamin E has shown the ability to reduce its severity, so my study will look at supplementing lamb diets with vitamin E to get the best results.”
Ms Calnan said the issue was very relevant to Western Australia, as local lambs had limited access to green grass – naturally high in vitamin E – due to climate.
Also, while previous studies have looked at reducing browning for local sales, hers will be the first to look at longer-aged meat, namely that bound for export markets.
“Meat shipped overseas can travel for upwards of two-months in chilled, vacuum-sealed containers. But once unpacked, it is known to be susceptible to rapid browning,” she said.
“We want to improve this to make chilled shipping more desirable for international markets, which will boost the local industry and add to Australia’s reputation for great lamb meat quality abroad.”