Med. Weter. 75 (9), 521-527, 2019

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Methods of beef ageing from the health safety standpoint
Beef ageing is a technique used by meat technologists, retailers, and restaurateurs to intensify flavor and improve tenderness due to the natural enzymatic processes occurring in meat postmortem. There is a widespread consensus that meat should age to achieve desirable palatability and tenderness. However, taking into account obvious advantages and disadvantages it is questionable which technique of meat ageing is to be selected. The paper presents two techniques of beef ageing (dry and wet) and their effect on the final sensory quality of meat, weight losses, and microbiological status. On the one hand, dry ageing primarily augments the flavor of meat. On the other hand, wet ageing notably increases the meat tenderness. Unfortunately, dry ageing of unpacked beef (or beef cuts) is a process which requires specific temperatures, relative humidity, airflow, and high standards of hygienic conditions. In contrast, wet ageing of meat in a vacuum bag does not require such circumstances (with the exception of temperature). Moreover, wet ageing can further amplify the effect of dry ageing, thus creating an additional benefit. The main advantages of this combination are the constrained weight loss of beef and a substantial reduction in the risk of contamination. Although the dry beef ageing process is extremely time-consuming, requires particular attention and professional knowledge, it turns out that a narrow group of consumers is prepared to pay a premium for the properly manufactured final productthat stands out in terms of a unique taste profile. Furthermore, such a product is nutritious and completely safe from the health point of view (the lack of pathogenic microorganisms and mycotoxins as well as relatively low level of biogenic amines) when good hygienic and manufacturing practices (temperature, humidity, air-flow, careful treatment) are respected.
Key words: beef, wet ageing, dry ageing, food safety, health hazards