Sorting beef subprimals by ribeye area size at the packer level to optimize utility and product uniformity in foodservice and retail
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The objectives of the study were to evaluate if sorting beef carcasses at the packer level by loin muscle (LM) area, using instrument grading technology, would increase the consistency of three boxed beef products for the foodservice and retail sectors of the industry. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Choice beef sides (n = 100) and USDA Select sides (n = 100) were selected and stratified into five LM area categories (±2.9 cm2): 1) 77.4, 2) 83.9, 3) 90.3, 4) 96.8, and 5) 103.2 cm2. Beef lip-on ribeyes and boneless strip loins were obtained from USDA Choice sides and full, partially defatted tenderloins were obtained from USDA Select sides. Subprimals were scanned with a portioner that captured visual images and dimensional analyses of each subprimal, and data were analyzed by the software to determine multiple portioning outcomes for each subprimal. Portioning data were generated for each subprimal based on a variety of targeted portion weights (ribeye and strip loin steaks = 340.2 g; tenderloin steak = 170.1 g), as well as various portion thicknesses (ribeye and strip loin steaks = 31.8 mm; tenderloin steak = 44.5 and 50.8 mm). Subprimal utility varied across targeted portion weights and thicknesses within each LM area category. For the ribeyes and strip loins, optimal portion weight and thickness combinations were observed more frequently in LM area categories 1 and 2 than for the three larger LM area categories. Analysis of data for tenderloins revealed that LM area categories played a lesser role in identifying optimization of steak portion weight and thickness combinations. Findings demonstrate that creating categories of beef subprimals based on LM area as opposed to subprimal weight might provide a unique sorting method that would improve boxed beef product consistency and uniformity for foodservice and retail sectors.
author list (cited authors)
Steele, C. C., Arnold, A. N., Gehring, K. B., Griffin, D. B., & Savell, J. W.