Changes in the composition of South African red meat
Red meat often evokes a wide array of complex and contradictory arguments. It is viewed as the most expensive component of any diet, supplying many essential nutrients as part of a healthy, prudent eating plan. Yet, red meat is non-homogenous, unique to each country, and continually changing in composition. It is observed that the amount of fat on carcasses has reduced over time, simultaneously improving nutrient density through feed efficiency. The objective of this paper is to present composition data on South African lamb, mutton and beef, and report on the changes observed between local data and international data (for lamb and mutton), as well as changes in the composition of South African beef over time. South African lamb and mutton contain notably less fat and more nutrients per 100 g product than international sheep meat produced, rendering a lean product with a higher nutrient density. Compared to previous studies on South African beef, the current data indicate notable changes in the composition over time, specifically related to a reduction in fat content. This reduction together with changes in carcass weight has resulted in changes in carcass composition and thus changes in nutrient density. The data attest that in order to align industry processes, as well as legislation and marketing strategies, continued research on composition needs to be performed for the baseline information to remain relevant and accurate.
Keywords: Beef, lamb, mutton, nutrient content, nutritional composition, South Africa