We believe the higher fat content of cuts considered intermediate or tough will increase consumer flavor ratings and consequently overall palatability. If overall eating satisfaction of chuck, sirloin, and round cuts from high quality carcasses is comparable to loin cuts from lower quality carcasses, additional value could be captured by marketing those traditionally tougher or underutilized muscles. The objectives of this project were to measure the effects of fat level on the palatability traits of flavor, tenderness, juiciness, and overall liking of beef strip loin steaks, under blade (Denver cut) steaks, top butt steaks, and top round steaks as determined by consumers, with emphasis on the role of fat on beef flavor and overall palatability; and to determine if higher fat levels of steaks from underutilized muscles in the chuck, sirloin, and round can compensate for reduced tenderness to improve overall liking through increased flavor compared to tender steaks from the loin, thus creating viable steak alternatives for foodservice establishments.
A consumer study was conducted in Lubbock, Texas, to measure the effects of fat level on flavor, tenderness, juiciness, and overall liking of four beef muscles. The study was arranged so that each participant tested 8 samples representing a high- and low-quality grade [Upper 2/3 (Top) Choice and Select] from 4 muscles (top loin, top sirloin, top round, under blade). The muscles were obtained from a commercial facility and cut into 1-in. steaks, and further processed into smaller pieces for consumer testing. Consumers rated each of 8 steak samples for tenderness, juiciness, flavor liking, and overall liking and rated each trait as either acceptable or unacceptable.
Consumers rated top loin more tender than under blade and top round, but similar to top sirloin. Consumer acceptability of each palatability trait decreased as quality grade decreased from Top Choice to Select. The top round showed the lowest acceptability scores for all the palatability traits. Overall and flavor acceptability were similar between top loin, top sirloin, and under blade regardless of quality grade. Consumer overall liking was related to tenderness and juiciness, but most highly associated with flavor liking.
When tenderness was acceptable, flavor and juiciness play a major role in determining overall acceptability. Even when consumers scored tenderness low, as with the top round, superior flavor and juiciness could compensate and improve the overall liking and acceptability of beef. Overall liking of under blade and top sirloin from high quality carcasses was superior to top loin from lower quality carcasses and comparable to top loin from high quality carcasses. Therefore, results from this study showed additional value could be captured by marketing those more underutilized cuts from chuck and sirloin of high-quality carcasses.
Table 1. The effects of muscle and quality grade on the least square means (±SEM) for consumer (n=120) sensory scores1 for tenderness.
Table 2. The effects of muscle and quality grade on the least square means (±SEM) for consumer (n=120) sensory scores1 for palatability traits.
|Top Loin||Top Round||Top Sirloin||Under Blade|
|Top Choice||Select||Top Choice||Select||Top Choice||Select||Top Choice||Select||SEM||P – Value|
|Overall Liking||73.85a||54.53b||46.61c||42.50c||68.67a||59.28b||68.24a||57.64b||2.38||< 0.01|
Table 3. The effects of muscle and quality grade on the percentage of samples (±SEM) rated as acceptable by consumers (n = 120) for tenderness, juiciness, flavor liking, and overall liking.
|Muscle||Tenderness||Juiciness||Flavor Liking||Overall Liking|
|P – Value||< 0.01||< 0.01||< 0.01||< 0.01|
|P – Value||< 0.01||0.03||0.05||< 0.01|