Tenderness is a highly influential sensory attribute on the eating quality of beef, yet it can be highly variable between cuts. Through the combined use of tumbling and postmortem aging, we have developed a potential strategy to enhance the tenderization process in shorter time frames than aging alone.
The demand from consumers for consistently tender fresh beef products is high, yet ensuring steaks will not be tough remains a key challenge for the meat industry. Several interventions have been used by the industry to improve the tenderization process. However, an ideal method has not yet been developed. In this Research Showcase, Dr. Jacob Tuell will discuss the combined application of meat tumbling and further postmortem aging as a strategy to improve fresh beef tenderness and its impacts on muscle structure and ultrastructure. Using a combination of meat quality measures, biochemical attributes, and consumer and trained sensory panels across various cuts, a holistic understanding of the process has been gained. Physical disruptions induced through tumbling result in obvious fragmentation to myofibrils within the muscle fibers. The palatability of beef cuts whose tenderness relies primarily on proteolysis and the breakdown of myofibrillar proteins, such as the longissimus lumborum (strip loin), immediately benefit from the tumbling process. Accordingly, the duration of aging applied to these cuts could be considerably shortened. However, cuts whose tenderness is predominantly affected by intramuscular connective tissues, such as the semitendinosus (eye of round), do not show similar improvements in tenderness and eating quality. The studies to be discussed in this Research Showcase have been published in Journal of Food Science, Meat and Muscle Biology, and Journal of Animal Science.
Pre-Tenured Faculty or Recent PhD Graduate