Talking Tenet™ Tenderness

Tenet™ Team

__What makes a perfect steak? __

That’s where the search should begin. From the beef industry to the beef consumer, this is obviously a very subjective question, but a question where you’re likely to find “tenderness” as a universal factor.

Some consumers order their steaks rare, others well done, but it’s unlikely any restaurant server has ever heard a request for “tough”.  

Tenderness is the greatest quality challenge within the beef industry and especially challenging for the grass-fed segment. Consumers believe beef is not tender 66% of the time when grass-finished and 25% of the time when commercially finished, a pretty challenging percentage for a multi-billion-dollar industry to market against.

To most consumers, a “perfect steak” starts with a USDA designation of Prime. One key reason for this is that a Prime steak is presumed to be more tender than Select or Choice. Here we enter into another subjective but accepted quality factor. These ratings are (subjectively) determined by fat content and marbling – this is not a scientific method but rather a best guess based on known factors.

So, is there a non-subjective, scientific method of arriving at the “perfect steak”?

Over 20 years ago, Animal Sciences Professor Frank Hendrix initiated a study to determine if there was an identifying genetic factor that could indicate the tenderness of beef.

Frank discovered that there were naturally occurring genetic markers that could be used to identify the tenderness of beef (more about genetic markers in our next blog post). After identifying the presence of these markers, the beef was then tested using a Werner Brexler Sheer, a device designed to indicate pound-per-chew, i.e., the tenderness of each sample tested. It turns out, using identified genetic markers in correlation with the sheer test, beef tenderness is not only genetic but can be ranked from a scale of 1-10. Tenderness level 1 (T1) being the toughest and T9 & T10 (Tenet™) being the most tender.

Using this new scientific method (markers in correlation with sheer-force testing) has created the ability to determine beef tenderness with 99% percent accuracy.

The next study Frank initiated – and one of even more significance – answers the question: can we breed tenderness into a herd? This would be an example of applied genetics an upcoming blog topic.

The search for the perfect steak will always remain subjective; we’ll never all arrive at the same conclusion.  But we now have a scientific method of determining the one universal factor in making that decision: tenderness.