Defining Tenderness: The Story of Frank's Discovery

Frank Hendrix

When I was growing up my large family consumed more hamburger than steak. Each birthday we picked the dinner we wanted. I remember years of lasagna and pizza on my sibling’s birthdays. I always chose T-bone steak and I am sure my parents adjusted the budget in December for my birthday dinner. I remember my parents using a contraption of little knives to stab the meat before marinating the steak in tenderizing powder for 24 to 48 hours prior to cooking. The results varied from good to chewy.

Toughness is the number one problem of beef according to consumers and has been studied and verified many times. In a consumer study in 2016, consumers reported grass-fed beef was too tough 66% of the time and normal commercial beef was undesirable 23% of the time. Beef quality is important, everyone knows it and Tenet™ Beef is the highest quality.

I have studied causes of beef toughness. Essentially seven factors contribute to tough beef and none of them has anything to do with hair color. Certified black cattle have the same toughness issues as white cattle. Certified black hair breeds spent hundreds of millions in marketing to convince customers of an advantage that genetically does not exist. Even American Wagyu has toughness issues.

Thousands of markers exist on the sixty chromosomes of cattle. Tenet™ Beef has identified markers working extremely well to determine genetically tender beef to aid in the certification of beef tenderness. No one else uses the markers we use and Tenet™ and Mid-Ten™ cannot be compared to anything else. Verifying marker analysis is accomplished by cross correlation with a Warner/Bratzler shear force machine. We can tell from a small sample of blood if the animal is normal tenderness, Mid-Ten™ guaranteed tender or Tenet™, the highest beef tenderness available. If the animal is Mid-Ten™ agricultural economists believe the carcass is worth up to a $400 premium. A Tenet™ carcass is worth significantly more than a Mid-Ten™ carcass. The round steaks of a Tenet™ carcass are as tender as a normal rib steak.

Beef tenderness is a trait and can be selected for through natural selection and selective breeding. There is no GMO or genetic modification, at all, period. At the simplest level of explanation, we are selecting for a trait like hair color in horses or dogs or better legs in range cattle. A cattle producer can advance beef quality in the herd by simply selecting a Tenet™ bull. The sustained use of Tenet™ bulls will affect continued escalation of higher quality tenderness within the herd. Once the herd is Tenet™ quality it can be sustained by the selection of only Tenet™ bulls. Many producers are testing their retained heifers as herd replacements and including Mid-Ten™ and Tenet™ certification as one of the selection criteria. Testing is done using a DNA collection card, ordered through the website. It takes three to five drops of blood obtained by making a little nick or scratch in the ear at vaccination time. The sample is mailed to us and Tenet Beef contacts the rancher with the results.

Tenet™ is a new paradigm in the American beef industry. Producers and consumers alike know tenderness is a problem in American beef. Tenet™ tenderness certification and selective breeding removes the largest problem in the American Beef Industry and increases the value of each certified animal.