Measures of Tenderness
Measures of tenderness are used to quantify expected overall eating satisfaction of beef produced from a carcass. Beef that is more tender, or softer and easier to chew, is deemed to be more palatable by consumers.
Two tenderness testing protocols, Warner-Bratzler Shear Force and Slice Shear Force, are generally used in the beef industry today. Both are objective tests that adequately score beef and can be used for sorting the final product into levels of tenderness perceived by the consumer.
Warner-Bratzler Shear Force
Uses a Warner-Bratzler shear blade on chilled cooked beef steak round cores (0.5 inches in diameter) removed parallel to the longitudinal orientation of the muscle fibers. A minimum of six cores are obtained from each steak sample and sheared once in the center of each core. The amount of pressure needed to shear the cooked core samples is used to classify the beef into a tenderness category. Less pressure needed to shear the slice indicates a more tender product whereas more pressure needed suggests a less tender cut.
Slice Shear Force
Slice Shear Force technology involves removing a core from the strip loin of a beef carcass that is approximately 1.0 centimeters in diameter and 5.0 centimeters in length. The core is cooked using a belt grill or impingement oven cooking protocol and sliced using a sizing box, slicing box and slice blade. The amount of force required to slice the meat determines its tenderness with a lower value indicating less force required to slice the meat and thus a more tender piece of meat. This option is a higher throughput option which requires higher capital investment but is less labor intensive.