The aim of this study was to characterise mountain-produced meat. A total of 88 steers of the hardy Swiss Herens breed were compared. The animals came from extensive grassland mountain farms in the Alps (1200 and 1800 m above sea level) and in the Jura (1200 m) and from a lowland farm practising intensive fattening without grass. The meat produced at medium altitude (1200 m) did not have any particular sensory characteristics after maturing for two weeks. On the other hand, after three weeks maturing, the mountain-produced meat had a stronger pastoral flavour than the lowland meat. The meat produced at an altitude of 1800 m on poor, steep pasture was 30% less tender than the lowland meat and was the least acceptable in a consumer test. Grass-based feeding altered the fatty acid composition of the meat and improved its nutritional quality. By enabling the different production sites to be fully distinguished from one another, the fatty acids proved to be excellent «terroir» biomarkers, indicating the possibility of analytical traceability.
PASTO: quality of mountain beef