Semitendinosus, muscle location, tenderness, aging time


Beef tenderness is the most important trait affecting consumer beef eating satisfaction. Cuts from muscles with superior tenderness (tenderloin, ribeye, striploin) are consequently most highly valued, but because of recent record-high beef prices, the need to identify more economical cuts that will meet consumer expectations for tenderness is greater than ever. The eye of round (Semitendinosus) has traditionally been marketed as a lower-value cut, primarily owing to its inherent toughness. Tenderness improves throughout postmortem aging and continues to improve in muscles aged for greater than 35 days. Retail steaks from the Semitendinosus receive, on average, 17 days of aging, with almost half (48.5%) receiving less than 14 days. This indicates a significant opportunity for tenderness improvement of Semitendinosus steaks through extended aging times.

In many muscles, including the Longissimus, tenderness depends on anatomical location. Tenderness is often reduced in regions of the muscle closest to the ends or in close proximity to heavy connective tissue seams. Very little is known about the effects of aging and anatomical location on the tenderness of the Semitendinosus.

Warner-Bratzler shear force testing is commonly used to measure beef tenderness objectively. Consumers rate beef with shear values of 9.5 lb as “tender,” so if tenderness of Semitendinosus steaks can be improved to meet this threshold, then the eye of round may offer a suitable alternative to higher-valued cuts for consumers and an opportunity for increased value for processors. Thus, the objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of aging and anatomical location on the tenderness of Semitendinosus steaks.