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Seiryuu's avatar

Do animals taste different based on their mood before slaughtering them?

Asked by Seiryuu (254 points ) November 24th, 2012

Right now I’m writing a journal entry that requires me to reflect on animal welfare and the ethics that surround it. I’m thinking of adding a point where a guest speaker (if I recall correctly) said that animals that are free-range and are not stressed taste differently from their mass-produced, genetically-modified counterparts. Is there any evidence that supports this?

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16 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

Well I know hunters say that meat tastes bad once an animal is killed, because of the chemicals released by it’s body, but over long term, I doubt it has an effect. Animals aren’t as psychologically complex as people, especially thigns like chickens and cows. It comes down to right before the kill I ‘d imagine.

RareDenver's avatar

I don’t think there is. A healthy animal will taste different to an unhealthy animal but that’s physical ailments. When it comes to animal psychology I can’t imagine that would have much impact on the taste of their flesh.

Sunny2's avatar

I doubt there is much difference. For the most part, animals are killed very quickly and have no time to react. However, a person’s taste may different depending on how they feel about killing animals for food. If you’re truly averse to eating meat, it would probably affect how it tastes to you .

Unbroken's avatar

We have a term called gamey meat. It tends be tougher and some say “wild” I believe this is due to an adrenaline response, say the animal is aware it’s being hunted. This is an immediate chemical reaction.

I prefer wild meat it is much more nutrituous small amounts are much more satsifing. But I don’t think there is a pervasive stress taste. The taste difference imo is associated to fat content and diet.

Seiryuu's avatar

Thanks, guys. So from what I understand the characteristics of the meat is based more on how they’re raised?

Adagio's avatar

I beg to differ, over the past few years I have heard much about the conditions under which an animal is slaughtered affecting the tenderness of the meat, the less stress an animal suffers the more likely the meat is to be tender, I looked online and found this reference to such a viewpoint:

What factors affect the tenderness of the meat we buy in the supermarket?
By the time the meat is in the refrigerated display, it’s tenderness – or otherwise – is largely set. Obviously, the ‘best cuts’ are the most tender. But even meat that should have been tender can be made tough by stress just prior to slaughter. In general, breed and sex have relatively little effect on tenderness, but pre slaughter treatments such as Vitamin D injections or medication, quiet handling and good transport conditions on the way to the killing plant, electric stunning to render the animals unconscious immediately prior to slaughter, freezing then thawing and then aging to allow muscle enzymes to break apart muscle fibers – all treatments significantly improved tenderness. Quote taken from here

Seiryuu's avatar

@Adagio Thank you for that link. That led me to searching up “pre-slaughter stress” and found this article in the first page of Google hits!

wundayatta's avatar

Taste is a personal thing. I seriously doubt the hormones running around an animal’s body can affect the taste that much. But it would be interesting to test that theory. Are there any studies out there that compare the flavor of stressed out beef to mellowed beef? I doubt it.

rooeytoo's avatar

Many gourmet chefs, especially when it comes to seafood, want product that is killed quickly and non stressfully because it definitely affects taste and texture. Also Temple Grandin is an interesting person to research on this subject. She designs humane slaughterhouses to protect the animals from stress.

I don’t much care about the, I would think, marginal differences in taste. I think humans should have mercy on the lesser creatures and that includes humane, efficient slaughtering.
Some in the industry of killing are beginning to follow the designs of Temple Grandin but many still don’t and they are appalling places. Here in Australia there is tremendous amount of live export of cattle, sheep and goats to muslim countries. apparently islam demands live animals be slaughtered to its specific methods which include torture. I can’t imagine any god who would demand that its creatures be subjected to such treatment. Live export and the stress it places on animals should also be banned.

Bellatrix's avatar

I agree with @Adagio. There is a lot of discussion about the need to keep animals stress free before they are slaughtered because stress affects the quality of the meat.

This is from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

_Spoilage of meat

It is necessary for animals to be stress and injury free during operations prior to slaughter, so as not to unnecessarily deplete muscle glycogen reserves. It is also important for animals to be well rested during the 24-hour period before slaughter. This is in order to allow for muscle glycogen to be replaced by the body as much as possible (the exception being pigs, which should travel and be slaughtered as stress free as possible but not rested for a prolonged period prior to slaughter). It is important that the glycogen levels in the muscles of the slaughtered carcass are as high as possible, to develop the maximum level of lactic acid in the meat. This acid gives meat an ideal pH level, measured after 24 hours after slaughter, of 6.2 or lower. The 24h (or ultimate) pH higher than 6.2 indicates that the animal was stressed, injured or diseased prior to slaughter.

Lactic acid in the muscle has the effect of retarding the growth of bacteria that have contaminated the carcass during slaughter and dressing. These bacteria cause spoilage of the meat during storage, particularly in warmer environments, and the meat develops off-smells, colour changes, rancidity and slime. This is spoilage, and these processes decrease the shelf life of meat, thus causing wastage of valuable food. If the contaminating bacteria are those of the food poisoning type, the consumers of the meat become sick, resulting in costly treatment and loss of manpower hours to the national economies. Thus, meat from animals, which have suffered from stress or injuries during handling, transport and slaughter, is likely to have a shorter shelf life due to spoilage. This is perhaps the biggest cause for meat wastage during the production processes_. (FAO).

rooeytoo's avatar

Isn’t it amazing, all that from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, but not a word of it in protection of the animals. They are only concerned with shelf life. What is this world coming to??? My grandfather was a farmer and he shot his own animals right where they had grown up and felt at home. And then he either butchered them himself or sent them to an abattoir. He deemed that to be his responsibility to the animals that provided his living.

SuperMouse's avatar

You might take a look at Temple Grandin’s website discussing humane slaughter.

Adagio's avatar

@rooeytoo I take my hat off to men like your grandfather, respecting the animals that provided a living for him and his family. And I applaud your mention of the emphasis given to shelflife over concern about animal protection, why need these two issues be separated? Some consumers living in the city, without any past or present connection to rural life, have no idea how the meat they buy all neatly packaged in plastic wrap from the supermarket is processed, they are quite divorced from the reality.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Adagio – that is very true and I realize that in today’s world my grandfather’s methods are not practical. But animals can be treated humanely, they are sentient and that should be reflected in their management. Economics does indeed rule the world but if the average person spoke with their buying habits, this would become the ruling economics. Buy only free range, it is more expensive so eat less, that would be good for your health as well as the animals’ wellbeing. Here thousands of abattoir jobs were lost when suddenly the theory was that live export was the only way to go. Many of them aboriginal people who are not always educated sufficiently nor willing to relocate in order to find employment. Cause and effect is everywhere and it should be considered along with the economic factors.

Adagio's avatar

@rooeytoo I think your grandfather’s methods are practised by more and more farmers these days, men and women looking at more than economics, people practising animal husbandry in its truest form, I just watched a programme about a young couple in NZ, growing animals slowly, and selling the meat in their own butchery, the meat is highly sought after.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@wundayatta Maybe we should give the cows some medicinal herb and then test it. I’m sure some hippie has done that at some point already though….lol

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