Past Projects

Economic Research

Use of Glycolytic inhibitors to Improve beef tenderness

Research Lead: Dr. Ira Mandell , University of Guelph

Executive Summary

The discovery of BSE in Canada in 2003 devastated the cull cow market with the ban on the export of live animals and cull cow beef to the U.S. Since BSE was discovered in Canada, returns for cull cows decreased up to 80% from pre-May, 2003 returns.  While returns have improved, there is a need to increase utilization of cull cow beef domestically to improve producer returns.  Problems with lack of consistency in tenderness and unsatisfactory eating experiences especially with tenderness are hampering marketing of cull cow beef.  Opportunities exist for increased usage of cull cow beef in food service and retail meat industries if problems with quality and consistency can be addressed.  Tenderness enhancement from postmortem processing could open up markets for cull cow beef as a fresh product at grocery stores or as mainstream restaurant entrees.  The bottom line is to develop processing procedures for cull cow beef to ensure a quality product and increase consumer demand and returns for cow producers.  The objectives of the research proposal are to evaluate the process of hot boning combined with moisture enhancement  solutions to decrease rates of muscle glycolysis and enhance eating quality of muscles from the round and chuck for enhancing the quality of cull cow beef.   The study will evaluate the effects of these processing techniques on product appearance, meat quality attributes, eating quality attributes, product shelf life, and food safety.  Over 2 years, 134 cull cows were slaughtered at the University of Guelph Meat Laboratory with five moisture enhancement  treatments used each year in hot boned muscles (muscles cut from the carcass within an hour after entry into the chill cooler) and from conventionally chilled carcasses where muscles have been allowed to enter rigor and chill for approximately 24 hours. In year 1, the five moisture enhancement treatments included 1) a non-injected control, 2) injection with a phosphate/salt solution that is commonly used with pork and red branded beef at packing plants in Canada and the U.S., 3) sodium citrate, 4) calcium ascorbate, and 5) a mixture of lemon and orange juices on hot boned and conventionally chilled inside rounds (semimembranosus muscle) and strip loins (longissimus muscle).  In year 2, the mixture of lemon and orange juices was replaced by calcium lactate  and  the five moisture enhancement treatments were used on hot boned and conventionally chilled outside rounds (biceps femoris muscle) and rib eyes (longissimus muscle). 

Tenderness enhancement was the major focus of the study.  The use of hot boning and moisture enhancement was generally ineffective for improving the tenderness (decreasing shear force) of muscles from the round (inside and outside rounds) in beef aged 14 days.  The use of hot boning and a  phosphate/salt solution decreased shear force by 4.5%.  The technique of hot boning altered the appearance of the product with darker colored lean as compared to the color of meat that consumers generally find at the retail grocery meat case.  In contrast to muscles from the round, the use of hot boning and moisture enhancement improved tenderness (decreased shear force) versus non-injected control beef.  For strip loins, the use of calcium ascorbate with conventional chilling decreased shear force  by  19.7% in beef aged 14 days while use of a phosphate/salt solution in hot boned beef decreased shear force  by 14.5%. The same moisture enhancement treatments were effective with  rib eye steaks for the second year of testing where use of a phosphate/salt solution in hot boned beef decreased shear force by 16% while use of calcium ascorbate in conventionally chilled beef shear force by 25.5%.  Again, the use of moisture enhancement treatments with hot boning tended to darken the beef which may cause problems with consumer acceptance in purchasing fresh product.   Studies are being conducted to compare the palatability attributes (tenderness, juiciness, and flavor) of the processed cow beef  versus  AA and AAA red branded beef in trained and consumer taste panels.

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