Tenn., Feb. 1, 2007 – Increased aging times, slower chill rates and a jump in branded beef programs are among the reasons beef tenderness has increased 18 percent over results recorded in 1999, according to the 2005 National Beef Tenderness Survey, a checkoff-funded effort that recently evaluated beef from retail and foodservice establishments in 11 U.S. cities.
Following a baseline survey of retail beef in 1990, tenderness performance increased 20 percent, according to findings in a 1999 study of both retail and foodservice beef cuts. The 2005 report marks the third national tenderness survey in the past 17 years.
Researchers sampled a variety of cuts from 82 retail outlets and six foodservice facilities in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Chicago, Kansas City, Atlanta, Tampa, Philadelphia and New York City. Cuts were evaluated through Warner-Bratzler shear force values and consumer sensory panel assessments. Various parts of the work was conducted by Texas A&M University, Oklahoma State University, University of Missouri, University of Florida, Pennsylvania State University, Texas Tech and South Dakota State University.
Tenderness was rated by both trained consumer sensory panels and with the Warner-Bratzler shear force test, which determines the amount of force, in pounds, needed to slice a steak or beef cut.
Among the findings:
• For retail cuts, the top loin, bone-in strip, bone-in ribeye, T-Bone and Porterhouse steaks had the lowest (most tender) shear-force values.
• For foodservice cuts, top loin steaks were the tenderest, compared to ribeye and top sirloin steaks.
• Consumers rated the bone-in top loin the most preferable retail cut, based on attributes of tenderness, juiciness, flavor and overall like.
• Consumer preferences for foodservice cuts were affected by quality grade.
• Beef used for retail was aged an average of 23 days, compared to 30 days for foodservice beef.
• About 47 percent of retail cuts were marketed as part of a packer branded program.
The increasing number of branded beef programs, which require specific quality parameters, are having a positive effect on beef tenderness, said Dr. Glen Dolezal, vice chair of the Joint Product Enhancement Research Committee.
“The science, much of which has been provided by the beef checkoff, has allowed branded beef programs to deliver consistently tender and palatable beef—despite variation in marbling and quality grade,” he explained.