Using untargeted metabolomics and volatile aroma compounds to predict expert sensory descriptors and consumer liking of beef loin steaks varying in quality grade, aging time, and degree of doneness. Academic Article uri icon


  • Precursors to flavor are important to its development, yet little is known about the intrinsic products of metabolism that influence flavor. Our objective was to use untargeted metabolomics and volatile aroma compounds to predict expert and consumer sensory traits. USDA Select and upper 2/3 Choice beef strip loins were wet aged for 10 or 20 d and then cut into steaks, vacuum-packaged, and frozen. Steaks were cooked to 63C, 71C, or 80C end-point internal steak temperature. USDA Choice steaks had more intense beef flavor identity, brown, roasted, fat-like, salty, sweet, sour, umami, buttery, and overall sweet flavors compared to USDA Select steaks (P<0.05). Steaks cooked to 80C had more intense beef identity, brown, roasted, and umami flavors than steaks cooked to a lower degree of doneness. Steaks cooked to either 63C or 71C had more intense bloody, metallic, and sour flavors and were juicier, more tender, and had less connective tissue than steaks cooked to a higher degree of doneness. Volatile aroma compounds increased (P<0.05) in Choice steaks aged for 20 d, while cooking steaks to 80 increased aldehydes, ketones, and pyrazines. Raw steaks had 69 small-molecule metabolomic compounds shared across all four quality grade x aging combinations, and discriminant analysis correctly categorized (P<0.05) these metabolites. Metabolites and volatiles can be used to predict (r2>0.85) expert and consumer sensory panel descriptors and liking.

published proceedings

  • Meat Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Kerth, C. R., Wall, K. R., Hicks, Z. M., & Miller, R. K.

complete list of authors

  • Kerth, Chris R||Wall, Kayley R||Hicks, Zena M||Miller, Rhonda K

publication date

  • October 2023