Project Summary

Using High Pressure Pasteurization as a Possible Tenderness Process for Foodservice Top Sirloin Steaks

Principle Investigator(s):
Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D.
Texas A&M University
Completion Date:
May 2014

Meat and food companies must consider the evolution of consumer’s purchasing and consumption habits, as well as the perception and trends of consumer demands to keep or reinforce their leading position in the industry. The demand for high quality and consistent products with natural flavor and the fresh appearance of minimally processed foods is greatly desired by the consumer. Tenderness, flavor and color are the most important factors affecting beef palatability and marketability. Inconsistencies in beef tenderness is a major problem in the meat industry today. Assurance of acceptable tenderness is especially important to retail and restaurant segments of the industry because of the importance of repeat purchases by their clientele. The objective of this research is to supply substrates for gluconeogenesis (glycerol) and/or new fatty acid synthesis (glycerol and fructose) via drinking water to stimulate marbling deposition and enhance meat quality of finishing cattle.

The objective of this study was to investigate whether the use of high-pressure processing would result in comparable tenderness improvement to that of blade tenderization for Top Sirloin steaks destined for foodservice and to determine the impact of high pressure processing on quality factors such as color and flavor.


Choice, beef Loin (n = 45), Top Sirloin Butt, Center-Cut, Boneless, Cap Off (IMPS #184B) (Gluteus medius), aged 35 days were obtained from a local purveyor. Top Sirloin Butts were cut anterior to posterior into 3 pieces (logs) yielding 135 logs. Each log was assigned to a treatment (control, blade tenderized or high pressure processed). Following treatment, the logs were fabricated into steaks. Steaks were randomly assigned to be further analyzed by a consumer panel or for mechanical tenderness measurement (Warner-Bratzler shear force). Objective color assessments were obtained post product treatment and after cooking. Subjective cooked color was conducted by a trained panel. The consumer panel assessed each sample for overall like/dislike, like/dislike of tenderness, level of tenderness, like/dislike of flavor, level of beef flavor, like/dislike of juiciness and level of juiciness. Warner-Bratzler shear force determination was conducted using a United Model SSTM-500.


The high pressure processed Top Sirloin Steaks possessed a more undesirable lean color but did not exhibit differences in subjective degree of doneness values (P > 0.05). Sirloin steaks subjected to high pressure processing were less tender (P < 0.05) than blade tenderized or control steaks. Findings from this study support similar tenderness levels between control and blade tenderized top sirloin steaks. The consumer panel and Warner-Bratzler shear force results suggest product aged 35 days possessed no difference in tenderness between control and blade tenderized treatments. High pressure processed steaks also received lower consumer scores (P < 0.05) for overall like when compared to the control treatment. There was no difference between any of the treatments (P > 0.05) for beef flavor, juiciness like/dislike or level of juiciness.


Overall, findings from this study suggest aged Top Sirloin Butts do not need blade tenderization to enhance tenderness. High pressure processing did not achieve lower tenderness levels than control or blade tenderized steaks, suggesting additional research may be needed in order to implement this technique on Top Sirloin Butts to enhance tenderness.


Table 1. Least squares means of palatability characteristics of beef steaks from Top Sirloin for consumer (n=186 consumers) evaluation stratified by treatment.

Treatment n Overall likea Flavor likea Level of beef flavorb Tenderness likea Level of tendernessc Juciness likea Level of jucinessa Cook yield (%)
Control 186 7.40a 7.00 7.32 7.48a 7.31a 7.10 7.00 76.42
Blade Tenderized 186 7.32ab 6.98 7.33 7.52a 7.39a 6.99 7.00 75.11
High Pressure Processed 186 7.02b 7.00 7.32 6.85b 6.62b 6.89 6.97 74.43
0.13 0.14 0.13 0.15 0.14 0.15 0.14 0.98

  • a-b: Means within the same column lacking a common letter differ (P<0.05).
  • 9 = Like extremely; 1 = dislike extremely.
  • 9 = Extremely flavorful or intense; 1 = extremely bland or no flavor.
  • 9 = Extremely tender; 1 = extremely tough.
  • 9 = Extremely juicy; 1 = extremely dry.
  • Standard error of mean.