Methods to improve the quality and consistency of beef
Hilton, Gretchen Gayle
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The need to improve the quality and consistency of beef has been a concern of researchers, producers, packers, retailers, and restaurateurs for decades. As consumers strive to find a convenient, healthy, affordable, palatable food sources, the beef industry has fallen behind. Beefs lack of consistency, convenience, and the health concerns associated with eating beef have resulted in lost market share to other protein sources. The beef industry needs to identify means of providing consumers with high quality, convenient products. This dissertation evaluates methods to improve the quality and consistency of beef First, a study was conducted to determine if a guaranteed tender beef steak could be successfully offered to consumers in retail stores. This study utilized a new technology, middle meat electrical stimulation, to improve tenderness and also evaluated six different cattle breed types. Electrical stimulation did not improve tenderness (P > .05). However, electrical stimulation did improve (P < .05) marbling score, quality grade, and lean color. No palatability differences (P > .05) were found between breed types. Moreover, 99% of the steaks had Warner-Bratzler shear (WBS) values less than 4.5 kg. Thus, providing consumers with a guaranteed tender beef steak can be accomplished. A second study was conducted to utilize objective color measurements to identify tough beef carcasses from others. This study used CIE L*, a* and b* color measurements determined from the previous experience to determine if specific objective color measurements could be used to identify carcasses that produced tough steaks. Carcasses were selected that had L*, a* and b* values below 32.5, 20.5 and 20.5. A higher proportion of these carcasses (P < .05), 73.7%, had WBS values greater than 4.5 kg. Therefore, identifying a portion of the carcasses that produce tough steaks using objective color measurements can be accomplished efficiently and effectively. Both projects provided results that can be utilized by the beef industry to improve the quality and consistency of beef that is sold to consumers.