Sorting Beef Subprimals by Ribeye Size at the Packer Level to Maximize Utility and Product Uniformity in Foodservice and Retail Sectors
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The National Beef Quality Audit–2000 cited “low overall uniformity and consistency of cattle, carcasses, and cuts” as the greatest quality challenge for the fed beef industry. In subsequent years, cattle, carcasses, and cuts have continued to increase in size, and the consistency of boxed beef has remained variable. The objectives of this study were to evaluate if sorting beef carcasses at the packer level by ribeye size, also known as loin muscle area (LM area), using instrument grading technology, would increase consistency of three boxed beef products for foodservice and retail sectors of the industry. USDA Choice sides (n = 100) and USDA Select sides (n = 100) were selected and stratified into five LM area groups ranging from 74.8 cm^2 to 106.4 cm^2 . Beef ribeyes and strip loins were fabricated from the USDA Choice sides and tenderloins were fabricated from the USDA Select sides. Ribeyes (n = 97), strip loins (n = 98), and tenderloins (n = 95) were scanned with a Marel Portioner (M Series 3000; Lenexa, KS) that captured visual images and dimensional analyses. Data from the Marel were analyzed by equipment software to determine multiple portioning outcomes for each subprimal. Data were generated for each subprimal based on cutting to a variety of targeted portion weights, as well as cut to various portion thicknesses. After analysis, it was determined that subprimal utility varied across targeted portion weights and thicknesses within each LM area category. For the ribeye and strip loin subprimals, optimal portion weight and thickness combinations were observed more frequently in LM area categories 1 (74.8 to 80.6 cm^2 ) and 2 (81.3 to 87.1 cm^2 ) than for the three larger LM area categories. After analysis of the tenderloin data, LM area categories played a lesser role in identifying optimization of steak portion weight and thickness combinations. The findings of this study demonstrate that creating categories of beef subprimals based on LM area as opposed to subprimal weight might provide a unique sorting method that would improve boxed beef product consistency and uniformity in various sectors of the beef industry.
Steele, Chandler Connelly (2019). Sorting Beef Subprimals by Ribeye Size at the Packer Level to Maximize Utility and Product Uniformity in Foodservice and Retail Sectors. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from