CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Most steaks evaluated in the National Beef Tenderness 2010-11 Survey were considered tender and pretty much the same as steaks evaluated in 2005-06. However, it was also determined the least-tender cuts are still coming from the round. What this suggests is there’s a need for improved aging practices as well as increased consumer education targeted against proper preparation and cooking to improve consumer satisfaction.

This survey is the fourth to quantify the current status of tenderness compared to previous surveys. The US beef industry has been tracking beef tenderness, thanks to funding from the beef checkoff, for 20 years. The first benchmarking survey was conducted in 1990. Foodservice cuts were added and a consumer sensory panel was substituted for trained sensory panels that were previously used in more recent surveys because industry realized the consumer’s perception of tenderness is the ultimate determinant of a cut’s success.

“Beef quality, when you think about it, means a lot of things to a lot of people, but to a consumer, quality has everything to do with consistency, flavor, tenderness and overall taste,” said Molly McAdams, Ph.D. and chair of the checkoff’s Joint Product Enhancement Committee.

In the 1999 survey, a 20-percent increase in tenderness compared to 1990 was revealed. To a large extent, this was attributable to the checkoff-funded science that has increased the industry’s understanding of beef palatability, the checkoff relays.

Although the 2005-06 survey results indicated an 18 percent overall increase in tenderness compared to 1999, the survey’s authors said work was still needed to emphasize appropriate cooking methods for the wide range of retail cuts available in the US marketplace.

“Information from the National Beef Tenderness Survey has been very important in setting priorities for additional research that needs to be conducted in product enhancement, to look at where there are gaps in information or lack of information in certain areas,” said Jeff Savell, Ph.D. and professor of Animal Science at Texas A&M Univ.

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