Validation of the standards used for the instrumental measurement of beef tenderness

The tenderness of meat is determined instrumentally by measuring Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF). This measurement is performed according to different standards established outside of Switzerland. The aim of the present study was twofold: firstly, to check whether the perception of Swiss consumers vis-à-vis tenderness matched the WBSF categories commonly used; secondly, to define satisfaction categories by means of WBSF values. Nine hundred consumers tested sirloin steaks from six different tenderness categories with the following WBSF values: (1) 0 to 2.5 kg; (2) 2.6 to 3.2 kg; (3) 3.3 to 3.9 kg; (4) 4.0 to 4.6 kg; (5) 4.7 to 5.3 kg; (6) above 5.4 kg. The results indicate that the relationship between the average tenderness scores and the WBSF categories is nonlinear. The WBSF limit of 3.9 kg, below which meat may be considered tender, is confirmed, and corresponds in Switzerland to a satisfaction threshold of 66 %. In order to obtain a satisfaction threshold of 90 % and above, the meat must have a WBSF value of less than or equal to 3.3 kg. Taken together with the WBSF measurements, the results of the consumer tests in terms of perception of tenderness and hedonic assessment yielded three satisfaction categories. Swiss consumers are «completely satisfied» when WBSF values are less than or equal to 3.3 kg, «partly satisfied» with values above 3.3 to 3.9 kg, and «dissatisfied» with values above 3.9 kg. The WBSF values of 466 steaks from 9 different muscles were evaluated on the basis of these new criteria. The beef sector therefore now possesses standards for assessing tenderness in relation to the expectations of Swiss consumers.

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