Enhancing the polyphenolic content and demand of Upper Midwestern, locally produced beef

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2021: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Jenifer Fenton
Michigan State University
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Todd Lydic
Michigan State University
Dr. Ilce Medina-Meza
Michigan State University
Dr. Jason Rowntree
Michigan State University


  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: meat product quality/safety

    Proposal abstract:

    Beef producers in Northern Michigan are seeking to increase the supply of and demand for localized beef value chains. This project will build upon 2018 USDA NCR-SARE and M-AAA grants that are investigating how finishing systems impact beef quality and healthfulness in Michigan. Those projects focus on nutrient profile of fatty acid, mineral and vitamin (antioxidant) along with sensory and value chain outcomes. This proposal will build upon the nutrient composition analysis of the beef as it varies by finishing system and feed stuffs provided to the cattle by characterizing and profiling the impact of the finishing system on the polyphenolic/phytochemical content of the beef. There is appreciation in the literature that complex and biodiverse pasture composition will increase the presence and quantity of phytochemicals in milk and meat (Provenza et al., Front. Nutr., 19 March 2019). Yet, the presence of these phytochemicals in grass-finished beef products remains largely underappreciated in discussions of nutritional differences between grain-fed and pasture-raised (grass-fed) meat and dairy predominantly center around the lower n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). The human intake of phytochemicals is linked to beneficial health outcomes and intake is thought to come primarily from fruit/vegetable intake and only occur in plants. However, many plant phytochemicals are found in concentrated animal products, in particular, more evidence in milk products (Prache et al., 2005 Small Rumin. Res. 59, 157–168; Carrillo et al., 2016 Sci. Rep. 6:25948). Therefore, the objective of this study is to characterize and compare the phytochemical, in particular, the polyphenolic content of beef resulting from different finishing systems. We will utilize previously collected beef samples from the 2018 UDSA NCR-SARE and M-AAA projects where we have beef samples from cattle finished on complex pasture systems, grain-finished and a positive control group fed grape seed extract. Our lab has partnered with the Collaborative Mass Spectrometry Core (CMSC) at MSU to utilize cutting edge technology to profile and compare the phytochemical composition of the beefThe primary expected outcome is to demonstrate that the polyphenolic content of beef can be influenced by the finishing system to favor a profile that enhances human health when consumed. This will lead to increased consumer demand. This project has a very high likelihood of success using previously collected samples from funded USDA SARE projects with a team that is already working together as demonstrated by joint publications. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary expected outcome is to demonstrate that polyphenolic content of beef is influenced by the finishing system and by product feeds to favor a profile that enhances human health when consumed. At the same time, this knowledge will lead to marketing strategies for grass-finished beef products. Although Michigan-focused, this value chain project is not geographically limited and is scalable to the entire North Central Region.   

    Learning Outcomes Research Project:

    1) Demonstrate that the polyphenolic content of beef varies by finishing system/feeds 

    2) Compare the polyphenolic richness of beef from grass-finished vs grain-finished and the grape seed extract supplemented groups

    3) Increase farmer knowledge of how the finishing system influences the nutrient density of beef 

    4) Provide scientific knowledge to increase marketing potential of grass-fed beef affordable for consumers 

     Action Outcomes:

    1) Research will be published comparing the polyphenolic richness of beef from grass-finished vs grain-finished and the grape seed extract supplemented groups 

    2) Research will be combined with previous nutritional composition data collected via the NRC-SARE project 

    3New and more detailed nutritional composition of beef influenced by finishing-system will be created 

    4) Farmers will use the knowledge to decide what they want to nutritional content of their final beef product to be 

    5) Farmers will be able to choose a finishing system to create the most optimally nutrient dense beef product 

    6) Farmers will use this new knowledge to market the beef based on nutrient density and finishing system. 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.