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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Accuracy and Repeatability of Untrained Laboratory Consumer Panelists in Detecting Differences in Beef Longissimus Tenderness

Authors
item Wheeler, Tommy
item Shackelford, Steven
item Koohmaraie, Mohammad

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 24, 2003
Publication Date: February 20, 2004
Citation: Wheeler, T.L., Shackelford, S.D., Koohmaraie, M. 2004. The accuracy and repeatability of untrained laboratory consumer panelists in detecting differences in beef longissimus tenderness. Journal of Animal Science. 82:557-562.

Interpretive Summary: The beef industry has made it a priority to address the inconsistency in beef tenderness. Until it becomes possible to ensure that all beef is acceptably tender, one way to deal with the variation in tenderness is to identify the tenderness of meat from each carcass and market it accordingly. One of many critical issues in determining whether it would be profitable for the industry to market beef based on tenderness is the ability of consumers to consistently recognize tenderness differences. Most studies have concluded that consumers can detect differences in beef tenderness. However, repeatability of consumer evaluations of beef tenderness has not been determined. The objective of this experiment was to determine the accuracy and repeatability of untrained consumers, individually and as a panel, compared to trained sensory panelists in detecting differences in beef ribeye tenderness under controlled laboratory conditions. The trained sensory panel and the consumer panel detected similar differences among three tenderness groups: "tender," "intermediate," and "tough." The overall consumer panel tenderness rating was highly repeatable. There is wide variability in the ability of untrained consumers to detect differences in beef tenderness. Nonetheless, a consumer panel can accurately and repeatably detect differences in beef tenderness under controlled conditions and may be able to provide as effective an evaluation of beef ribeye tenderness as can a trained sensory panel. These data indicate that a large proportion of untrained consumers are capable of accurately and repeatably detecting differences in beef tenderness and, thus, may perceive there to be value in paying a premium for guaranteed tender beef.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to determine the accuracy and repeatability of untrained consumers and trained sensory panelists in detecting differences in beef longissimus tenderness. At 14 d postmortem, slice shear force was measured on one steak from 192 strip loins and used to select 54 strip loins and assign 18 of them to each of three tenderness classes (tender = < 15 kg, intermediate = 15 to 27 kg, tough = > 27 kg). Sixty-eight untrained consumers and 12 trained descriptive attribute sensory panelists evaluated paired steaks from each tenderness class in each of two sessions (12 total observations per panelist). Mean slice shear forces for "tender," "intermediate," and "tough" were 11.1, 21.0, and 32.2 kg, respectively. Mean tenderness ratings of trained panelists were different (P < 0.05) among tenderness classes (6.5, 4.8, and 3.2 for "tender," "intermediate," and "tough," respectively). Mean tenderness ratings of untrained consumers were different (P < 0.05) among tenderness classes (mean of 16 panelists = 6.2, 4.9, and 3.3 for "tender," "intermediate," and "tough," respectively), regardless of how many panelists were averaged per sample (4, 8, 12, or 16). The correlations between slice shear force and the mean trained panelist tenderness rating (mean of two, r = -0.90) or the mean consumer tenderness rating (mean of 4, r = -0.82; mean of 8, r = -0.89; mean of 12, r = -0.91; mean of 16, r = -0.92;) were similar. Overall repeatability of the consumer panel was 0.80. Repeatability of individual consumer panelists was highly variable: 32% > 0.80, 38% 0.60 to 0.79, and 34% < 0.60. Repeatability of individual trained panelists ranged from 0.55 to 0.99. Thirty-two percent of the consumers were both accurate (correlation to slice shear force > 0.75) and repeatable (R > 0.75). There is wide variability in the ability of untrained consumers to detect differences in beef tenderness. Nonetheless, a consumer panel can accurately and repeatably detect differences in beef tenderness under controlled conditions. An untrained consumer panel may be able to provide as effective an evaluation of beef longissimus tenderness as can a trained descriptive attribute panel.

Last Modified: 4/24/2014
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