Beef customer satisfaction: USDA quality grade and marination effects on consumer evaluations of top round steaks.
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An in-home beef study evaluated consumer ratings of top round steaks (semimembranosus) as influenced by USDA quality grade (top Choice or high Select), city (Chicago or Philadelphia), consumer segment (beef loyalists = heavy consumers of beef; budget rotators = cost-driven and split meat consumption between beef and chicken; and variety rotators = higher incomes and education and split meat consumption among beef, poultry, and other foods), degree of doneness, cooking method, and marination. Consumers evaluated each steak for overall like, tenderness, juiciness, flavor like, and flavor amount using 10-point scales (1 = dislike extremely, not at all tender, not at all juicy, dislike extremely, and none at all to 10 = like extremely, extremely tender, extremely juicy, like extremely, and an extreme amount of flavor, respectively). Quality grade affected several consumer sensory traits, with top Choice receiving higher (P < or = 0.004) tenderness, juiciness, and flavor like scores than high Select. Consumers in Chicago rated steaks cooked "medium and less" higher for overall like, tenderness, juiciness, flavor like, and flavor amount than those in Philadelphia (city x degree of doneness; P < or = 0.020). Steaks braised by customers in Philadelphia received among the highest scores for overall like, tenderness, juiciness, flavor like, and flavor amount compared with any cooking method used by customers in Chicago (cooking method x city; P < or = 0.026). Overall like and flavor amount ratings were least (P < 0.05) for steaks that were marinated and cooked to "medium and less" degree of doneness (marination x degree of doneness; P < or = 0.014). Braised steaks received among the highest values for overall like, tenderness, juiciness, flavor like, and flavor amount when cooked to "medium and less" or "medium well and more" (cooking method x degree of doneness; P < or = 0.008). Correlation and stepwise regression analysis indicated that flavor like was pivotal in customers' satisfaction with top round steaks, and was the sensory trait most highly correlated to overall like, followed by tenderness, flavor amount, and juiciness. Preparation of top round steaks was crucial in consumers' likes and dislikes, and by improving flavor, higher consumer satisfaction may be achieved.