The Evolution of New Beef Cuts – Part 1

When the price of beef was at a low ebb in the 1990's researchers were prompted to study the carcass closely in order to generate income from the product, writes B. Lynn Gordon of South Dakota State University.
calendar icon 7 January 2013
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With the goal of identifying value added cuts of the beef carcass due to depressed beef prices in the late 1990’s, the Beef Promotion and Operating Committee, who authorizes expenditures from the Beef Checkoff, allocated funding to profile the characteristics of muscles from the chuck and round. The objective of the project was to identify the physical and chemical characteristics of each muscle in an effort to find their optimal use, thereby generating optimal carcass value. The project was called, ‘Muscle Profiling’. As the beef animal myology was researched, results were then disseminated back to packers, processors, purveyors, researchers and developers, retailers, foodservice, and others in the industry to maximize value.

B. Lynn Gordon

For the past twenty-to-thirty years, the majority of beef cuts found in the retail case have been marketed as boneless cuts. Thus it has been important for cutting consistency, that meat cutters’ have knowledge of the beef animal musculature or myology. In addition, change in the industry toward more convenience-oriented products using single muscles was also driving a need for identification of cuts to meet these needs.

Coordination of the bovine myology project was overseen by the Research, Education, and Innovation department of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The research was done on fed-steer and heifer carcasses and jointly conducted by researchers from the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida. This extensive study yielded information on the chuck and round — never before identified. Characterization of 39 primary muscles were identified from the research project and included information such as physical characterization, Warner-Bratzler shear force, sensory panel tests, and analysis of such factors such as fat, moisture, color, pigment, and other product characteristics. The knowledge gained has opened the door to optimal use for many new muscles originating in the chuck and round, increasing demand for these previously underutilized cuts.

After the initial ‘Muscle Profiling’ project on fed cattle was completed, a follow-up study took place to profile the muscles of cow carcasses and categorize the differences between beef and dairy cow carcasses. CattleFax estimates the added value to the industry as a result of the identification of the new shoulder clod cuts is $50 to $70 per head and the value of the new chuck roll cuts, when selling nationally will be $40-$50 per head for the industry. More information about The Bovine Myology & Muscle Profiling project can be found online on the Bovine Myology website.

January 2013

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