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Canadian Beef Tenderness Survey: 2001–2011

27 April 2013

Changes in the animal population, production systems, carcase processing and distribution and handling before the meat went on display could be responsible for improvements in tenderness in Canadian beef.

These were the findings of a survey of Canadia beef carried out between 2001 and 2011.

The extensive survey across Canada by Manuel Juárez, Ivy L. Larsen, Jennifer L. Aalhus from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Mark Klassen from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association was developed collecting retail beef samples in 2001 (702 steaks) and 2011 (602 steaks).

The results of the study have been published in the Canadian Journal of Animal Science.

The samples - strip loin, top sirloin, inside round and cross-rib steaks - were evaluated for instrumental tenderness using standard procedures for sampling, storage, cooking and texture evaluation.

New equations were also developed in order to compare the results obtained in these studies with consumer thresholds developed in Canada and the United States of America.

In general, retail steaks collected in 2011 weighed less and showed higher fat thickness than those from 2001.

Regarding tenderness, a significant improvement was observed, especially for strip loin and top sirloin steaks between 2001 and 2011.

Using US threshold categories, the percentage of “tender” samples improved for the strip loin (2001=89 per cent; 2011=99 per cent), top sirloin (2001=70 per cent; 2011=87 per cent), inside round (2001=52 per cent; 2011=61 per cent) and cross-rib (2001=65 per cent; 2011=76 per cent) steaks.

Similarly, the percentage of “tough” samples shifted from five, eight, 27 and 13 per cent for the strip loin, top sirloin, inside round and cross-rib steaks in 2001 to one, five, 13, and eight per cent, respectively, in 2011.

Similar improvements were observed when using the more descriptive four-category Canadian threshold system.

The researchers said that these improvements may be due to changes in the animal population, production systems, carcass processing and distribution/handling prior to display in Canada.

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