The National Beef Tenderness Survey saw researchers collect information on the tenderness, flavour and juiciness of beef cuts on sale in the US. Data was then compared with surveys undertaken in 1991, 2000 and 2007.
They found there had been particular improvement in the tenderness of top blade steaks – which have a seam of tough connective tissue that must be removed before cooking. Prime rib-eye steaks purchased in restaurants had the best tenderness and juiciness ratings, while ungraded rib-eye steaks had the lowest scores for tenderness.
Overall, the tenderness scores were similar to those recorded in 2007, suggesting that a “plateau of beef tenderness” had been reached, the researchers said.
Other findings included the fact that the more expensive beef cuts – bone-in rib-eye steaks and boneless strip loin steaks – spent more time in storage. The researchers suggested this could be the result of reduced demand due to the economic downturn.
There was also an increase in branded beef cuts on sale at retail, with 64% of steaks labelled with a brand, compared to 47% in 2007. “Consumers may prefer branded products because branding implies consistent cattle breed, management and harvest techniques,” the researchers said.
They added that consumers also played a role in beef tenderness, with certain cuts unsuitable for certain cooking methods, such as grilling, due to a lack of fat and marbling. They recommended that future similar studies also analysed which cooking methods maximised tenderness in different beef cuts.
The National Beef Tenderness Survey was conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of Florida, Cal Poly, Oklahoma State University, University of Missouri, North Dakota State University, Pennsylvania State University and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.