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Purchasing decisions across all sectors of the beef industry can often be correlated to
market signals and/or pressures. The cause of changing marketing conditions is sometimes
predictable (drought, other agricultural impacts, global shifts in consumer trends, seasonality and
holidays, etc.), while other shifts in price and available inventory may be less understood or
expected. A response from purveyors, retailers, and/or foodservice operators to these changing
market conditions would be to purchase reasonably priced subprimals in a higher quantity than
needed and store them for subsequent use. Therefore, a better understanding of the impact of
various storage conditions on tenderness, color, and consumer acceptance will aid decision making for storage strategies, inventory management, and balancing changing marketing
conditions to achieve optimal consumer acceptance. While studies have examined effects of
storage temperature on tenderness, a cohesive effort to evaluate the compound effect of
subprimal and steak storage conditions on consumer acceptance and quality attributes was not
addressed. Therefore, this study was designed to determine if various combinations of fresh and
frozen storage of subprimals and steaks impact product tenderness, color, purge, and overall
consumer acceptability. The objective of this study was to determine if tenderness and consumer acceptability of beef steaks are influenced by storage conditions (fresh versus frozen).
USDA Choice boneless ribeye rolls (n = 40) and top sirloin butts (n = 40) were vacuum packaged, aged under refrigeration for 21 days, and then assigned to one of four treatment groups: Treatment 1 both subprimals and steaks were frozen and thawed; Treatment 2 subprimals were frozen and thawed, but steaks were not frozen; Treatment 3 subprimals were not frozen, but steaks were frozen and thawed; and Treatment 4 subprimals and steaks were never frozen. For all treatments, purge was quantified for both subprimals and steaks.
Subprimals were trimmed and cut into steaks following normal industry practices. Upon completion of steak cutting for all treatments, steaks (n = 160 ribeyes and 160 top sirloins) were assigned to consumer sensory panels or Warner-Bratzler shear (WBS) force and stored under refrigeration for no longer than 7 days.
On the day of assessment, objective color measurements were conducted on all steaks after a 30 min bloom time. Then, steaks were cooked on one of two Star International commercial flat-top grills to a final internal temperature of 70 °C. In-package weight, raw out-of package weight, initial internal steak temperature, grill temperature, time on, final internal temperature, time off, and final cooked weight were collected for every steak. Cooked yield and total cook time were calculated. Cooked steaks assigned for WBS force evaluation were placed onto plastic trays in a single layer, covered with plastic film, and stored at 2 to 4 °C for approximately 12 to 16 h. Steaks assigned to consumer panels were held in an Alto-Shaam oven set at 60 °C (Alto-Shaam Inc., Menomnee Falls, WI) for no more than 20 min before serving. One steak from each subprimal was used for WBS force evaluation, (n = 40 steaks, per subprimal type). Cooked and chilled steaks (n = 80, total) were allowed to equilibrate to room temperature (approximately 1.5 h) then trimmed of visible connective tissue to expose muscle fiber orientation. From each steak, at least six 1.3-cm cores were removed from the M. longissimus thoracsis and M. gluteus medius parallel to the muscle fibers using a hand-held coring device. Cores were removed to avoid excess fat or connective tissue and were sheared once, perpendicular to the muscle fibers, on a TMS-Pro Texture Analyzer.
Consumer sensory panel steaks (n = 160) were cooked as described previously, cut into
cuboidal portions and served warm to panelists seated in individually partitioned spaces with red
lighting to prevent panelist bias for degree of doneness. Consumer sensory panels were
completed in four sessions and designed to have five groups of four panelists per session. Each
panelist assessed eight samples (one from each treatment and steak type combination), and each
sample was evaluated by four panelists. Panelists (n = 80) evaluated samples using 9-point scales
(1 = dislike extremely; 9 = like extremely) for overall liking, flavor liking, tenderness liking, and
To view tables and figures, please download the project summary.