Retail Shelf-life Characteristics of Dry-aged Beef
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USDA Choice and USDA Select beef top sirloin butts (n = 60) and Choice and Select beef bone-in strip loins (n = 60) were aged for 21 d, 28 d, and 35 d and then fabricated into steaks (n = 360). Steaks were placed on tables in a cooler under constant lighting to simulate a mock retail case for five days, and a trained panel visually evaluated the lean color, fat color, and off-odor. Microbial samples were taken from each wholesale cut, as well as, subsequent steaks and were analyzed for aerobic plate counts, lactic acid bacteria, and yeast and mold counts. Surface discoloration (P = 0.007) and fat discoloration (P < 0.0001) of steaks increased as aging period and retail steak shelf-life day increased. Also, off-odor development increased (P < 0.0001) as aging period increased. Steaks most susceptible to undesirable visual retail characteristics included dry-aged steaks and steaks left in retail display for long periods of time (top sirloin and top loin steaks, cut from 21 d aged subprimals, approaching days 4 and 5 of retail display; top sirloin and top loin steaks, cut from 28 d aged subprimals, approaching day 3, 4, and 5 of retail case display; and top sirloin and top loin steaks, cut from 35 d aged subprimals approaching day 2, 3, 4, and 5 of retail display.) As for off-odor attributes, steaks cut from 35 d aged subprimals exhibited over double the amount of extreme and moderate off-odors than did steaks cut from 21 d and 28 d aged subprimals. Therefore, the preferred protocol for minimizing unappealing sensory attributes of aged steaks should be a short aging period, followed by a short retail case duration. By shortening the aging period, the producer can retain some of the product yield; however, shortening the aging period may negatively affect the flavor development and enhancement of the brown, roasted flavors associated with dry-aged beef.
Ulbrich, Carson (2010). Retail Shelf-life Characteristics of Dry-aged Beef. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from