Steak tenderness and consistency increases

Steaks are becoming more tender as the quality of English beef continues to improve, a new study has found. 

According to the 2016 AHDB Beef & Lamb retail survey, the tenderness of sirloin steaks and beef roasting joints has “increased noticeably over the last five years”.

The latest findings also showed that quality was more consistent, with a reduction in the variation of tenderness – meaning there was less risk of a consumer buying an excessively tough cut.

Dr Phil Hadley, head of global supply chain development at AHDB Beef & Lamb, said the findings also highlighted the ongoing improvements being made by processors and farmers – including the technological advancement from modified atmosphere packaging to skin packs.

“It’s great to see that the trend has continued and English beef is now more reliably tender than ever before. This means that consumers can purchase with confidence, safe in the knowledge that there’s less risk of them buying an excessively tough cut.

“These latest findings demonstrate the effort and continued improvements being made by processors and farmers across the country, who are working tirelessly to ensure only the highest quality of beef is delivered to our retailers.”

Launched in 2011, the survey was carried out amid concerns of an undesirable variation in the toughness of English beef. Samples of two popular cuts were collected from six major retailers before being repeated in 2015 to include prominent discount retailers.

The survey was carried out again this year, with a total of 80 sirloin steaks and 40 beef roasting joints collected over a five-week period, to see if the trend in tenderness was ongoing.

Tenderness is measured objectively using the shear force needed to cut a piece of meat. This year the most tender steak had a shear force measurement of 1.5kg, whereas in 2011 and 2015, the most tender samples were at 2.5kg and 1.9kg respectively.

But the most noticeable difference was the reduction in variability found within steaks, with the toughest cut this year measured at 5.0kg – giving a difference of 3.5kg. In 2011, the difference between the most tender and tough cut was 7.5kg.

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