Travis O’Quinn – Meat Flavor and Tenderness

(Travis) My name is Travis O’Quinn and today I’m talking about beef eating satisfaction and everything that goes into a good beef eating experience. And so that factors… that controlled beef eating quality are tenderness, juiciness, flavor. All three factors work together to affect the overall beef eating experience. And so when we look at those factors there’s a lot of research that has shown that beef tenderness is the most important factor driving overall eating satisfaction. However, we do know that when tenderness reaches an acceptable level that beef flavor becomes the biggest driver of overall eating satisfaction. The most recent beef tenderness audit shows that about 90 percent of beef in the U.S. retail supermarkets meets the consumers expectations for tenderness. Because of that, that really does drive beef flavor as probably the most important factor affecting beef eating satisfaction. And so a lot of the research that I do has been looking at beef eating quality related to beef flavor. When we talk about beef flavor, what we found is that the number one controller, or factor affecting beef flavor is actually marbling level. And so what we can do to be able to increase the flavor satisfaction from a consumers standpoint is that if we do put those animals on a high grain, high concentrate diet for the remainder of their lives, when they’re in a feedlot, what we do see, is we see a lot of positive flavor traits that are associated with that, specifically the beef flavor trait that has come out of a lot of the research is the beef fat or buttery type flavor. That seems to be the flavor profile that consumers like the most. And so if we can do anything to increase that flavor profile of the product, we do have a higher overall satisfaction from consumers. Another thing from a beef flavor standpoint, avoiding off flavors is very critical in terms of guaranteeing a good eating experience for consumers. Anything that’s going to affect that flavor, whether it be storage, post harvest that’s going to result in some oxidation or maybe some bacterial growth that will produce a lactic acid flavor is undesirable for consumers. Often management techniques that would impart an undesirable livery, gamey, fishy flavor such as a lot of times animals fed exclusively forage based diets end up having flavor profiles that meet that criteria. The consumers find those off flavors really objectionable and that’s probably one of the biggest leading causes from a flavor standpoint for that product to actually fail. One of the other things that we know does affect beef flavors, you have the ability to enhance the product by adding many different types of enhancement blends. Often they include salt, phosphates, waters, other seasonings. We’ve seen a lot of research that shows that really does increase the overall satisfaction from a consumer standpoint, on flavor standpoint as well. We’re currently involved with some research with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association looking at the effect of enhancement, actually what it is doing from a chemical compound standpoint that chemicals or compounds that are really steering cooking that would affect the beef flavor due to enhancement and trying to look to see what we can do in addition to marbling to actually enhance beef flavor and and be able to more successfully deliver a good eating experience to consumers from a beef flavor standpoint. All of the information from the research that we are doing is actually on our Animal Science home page here on the Kansas State Animal Science home page. There is a tab off to the left for a meats link and that will have all the information regarding this research.

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