Interpretive Summary: Volatile flavor compounds vary by beef product type and degree of doneness.
By: Dr. Thomas Powell
The combination of taste and odor forming flavor is heavily influenced by volatile compounds that contribute to aroma. In a Journal of Animal Science article published by researchers at Utah State and Texas Tech Universities, several discoveries were reported relative to the variation in these volatile compounds in beef products.
Researchers collected paired beef strip loins from 24 carcasses across three USDA quality grades Prime, Low Choice and Standard). After aging for 21 days, loins were sliced into 2.54-m steaks. A portion of each loin was ground, stuffed into 50-mm diameter casings, frozen, then sliced into 1.9 cm patties. Steak and patties were assigned to a final product temperature treatment of 4 (raw), 25 (raw), 55 (rare), 60 (medium), 71 (medium well), or 77°C (well done). Volatile compound analysis was conducted on minced samples from every treatment. An extensive data set of 27 volatile compounds present at various levels by treatment was observed. Numerous interactions were discovered between USDA quality grade, type of cut and degree of doneness.
A key conclusion was that fat content may enhance delivery of flavor components during consumption, supporting the beef industry’s efforts to select for higher marbling content. The volatile beef flavor compounds are greatly influenced by quality grade, product type and degree of doneness. In addition, varied cooking duration and lipid oxidative status affect chemical flavor development. There are also higher proportions of lipid-derived volatiles produced from ground patties compared with steaks.
After sorting through the numerous effects and interactions, the researchers concluded that though marbling does impact volatile flavor development, postharvest processing and cooking greatly affect the final flavor profile of beef. Much of this is in the hands of the consumers in their selection of cooking method and final degree of doneness. Further study is needed in the specific cookery methods to understand how common consumer beef handling impacts flavor development.
To view the full article, visit the Journal of Animal Science.