beef, tenderness, collagen-crosslink


Objective: The objective is to better understand the contribution of each tenderness factor to the perception of tenderness of three specific beef muscles with similar tenderness ratings.

Study Description: Longissimus lumborum (loin), tensor fascia latae (tri-tip), and gastrocnemius (heel) were collected from 10 U.S. Department of Agriculture low Choice beef carcasses and assigned to a 5- or 21-day aging period (n = 60). Steaks from each aging period from each subprimal were assigned to one of three assays: 1) trained sensory analysis; 2) objective tenderness evaluation (Warner-Bratzler shear force); or 3) physiochemical analysis (sarcomere length, proteolysis, intramuscular fat content, collagen crosslink, and content).

Results: Sarcomere length, troponin-T degradation, collagen content, mature collagen crosslink density, intramuscular lipid content, and trained panel analysis were measured. Correlation analysis indicated each muscle has a specific tenderness factor that contributed to the overall tenderness evaluated by trained panelists. The equations indicated Longissimus lumborum tenderness was driven by lipid content (P < 0.05) and that Tensor fascia latae tenderness was driven by collagen content (P < 0.05). Gastrocnemius tenderness was driven by proteolysis (P < 0.01), and only collagen content can be casually used as an overall tenderness predictor for all three cuts.

The Bottom Line: Each muscle showed a unique tenderness factor profile. Loin is inherently tender, and tri-tip has the makings for a tender cut as seen by our biochemical analysis, yet panelists rated tri-tip to have similar overall tenderness as heel, an inherently tough muscle.


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