Meta-analysis of meat quality of cattle slaughtered with different subcutaneous fat thicknesses
Abstract The objective of this work was to evaluate, through meta-analysis, the impact of subcutaneous fat thickness on beef qualitative traits. Combined data from 13 studies were used, comprising 245 carcasses of male bovines slaughtered in Brazil. Effect size for all parameters was calculated as mean difference or standardized mean difference, at 95% probability. The meta-analysis of random and fixed effects was carried out when I2>50% and I2<50%, respectively, for each indicator separately, with means for fat thickness, classified in the “control” (3–6 mm), “low” (<3 mm), and “high” (>6 mm) groups. Carcasses in the “high” group showed greater intramuscular fat deposition, whereas those in the “low” group presented an intramuscular fat deposition similar to that of the control. When the fat thickness was below the recommended threshold of 3 mm, shear force increased. Subcutaneous fat thickness values greater than 6 mm induced a positive change in the perception of tenderness by the panel of evaluators. Beef carcasses with a subcutaneous fat thickness over 6 mm tend to accumulate more intramuscular fat content and are tenderer for consumers’ acceptance. Carcasses with a fat thickness less than 3 mm produce tougher meat.