The food composition of raw and cooked beef offal

The food composition of raw and cooked beef offal (A Pilot study, as a pro-active activity)

Industry Sector: Cattle and Small Stock

Research focus area: Red Meat Safety, Nutritional Quality and Value

Research Institute: ARC-Animal Production Institute

Researcher: Dr SM van Heerden

Research Team:

Title Initials Surname Highest Qualification
Dr LE Smit
Mrs MM Magoro
Dr IB Zondagh PhD
Mrs JM Van Niekerk
Mrs JM Masilela
Mrs C Rapelego

Final report approved: 2017

Aims of the project

  • To determine selected nutrients in a pilot study of raw and cooked, red and white South African beef offal
  • To determine the total profile of nutrients should the results from the pilot study indicate the need for this?
  • To make the data on the nutrient composition of South African beef offal available to the MRC to be included
  • Into the South African Food Composition Tables of the Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • To compile and publish a comprehensive booklet on the nutrient content of South African beef offal

Executive Summary

Scientific literature on the nutrient content and food composition tables of offal is relatively scarce. However the nutritive value of all food products including meat and meat products is important, in view of the consumer interest and demand for a healthier lifestyle (Pearson & Tauber, 1984). Therefore, there is a great need for more detailed information on food with adequate nutritive value, especially protein, for the informal and poorer sections of the population in South Africa.

With the WHO’s estimation that 5 million people are dying every year from starvation, more attention should be given to the possibility of using proteins such as offal (beef, sheep), as protein sources in the diet (Poonam & Lawrie, 1986:144).

Offal, or organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal, makes up a substantial portion of an animal’s meat weight. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, but includes most internal organs other than muscle and bone. It is also described as those parts of a meat from a carcass which are used as food but which are not skeletal muscle. It covers insides including the heart, liver, and lungs (collectively known as the pluck), all abdominal organs and extremities: tails, feet, and head including brains and tongue. In the USA the expressions “organ meats” or “variety meats” are used instead (

In South Africa offal is mostly enjoyed by South Africans of diverse backgrounds. Due to the popularity of this dish, it is one of the few customs that white (especially Afrikaners) and black South Africans share. Offal dishes in South Africa include stomach, hooves, shin, intestines, liver, head, tongue and very rarely in certain communities, testicles, and are consumed ‘fresh’ (i.e. not frozen).

Please contact the Primary Researcher if you need a copy of the comprehensive report of this project – Ina van Heerden on