A consumer study was conducted in Lubbock, Texas, to determine the effects of fat level of beef strip steaks on the palatability traits of tenderness, juiciness, flavor liking, and overall liking, while further investigating the window of acceptability for fat content of beef. Thirty beef strip loins were selected by trained personnel to equally represent USDA Prime, High Choice (upper 1/3 Choice), Low Choice (lower 1/3 Choice), Select, and Standard. Proximate analysis was conducted on all strip loins to determine percentage fat, moisture, protein, and collagen. Three strip loins from each quality grade were selected based on fat percentages from proximate analysis to best represent each USDA quality grade for use in the consumer evaluations. Strip loins were fabricated into 2.5-cm steaks, and further processed into 5 × 5 cm pieces. In addition to the US-sourced product, beef LM pieces from 6 Australian Wagyu steers (Wagyu) and 6 Australian grain finished steers (Australian) were used in the consumer evaluations. Consumers (n = 120) were served 7 samples: a warm-up sample, 1 sample from each USDA quality grade treatment, and either a Wagyu or Australian sample, in a balanced order in accordance with a 6 × 6 Latin square. Consumers rated each steak sample for tenderness, juiciness, flavor, and overall liking and rated each palatability trait as either acceptable or unacceptable. Moreover, consumers rated each sample as unsatisfactory, good everyday quality, better than everyday quality, or premium quality. Tenderness, juiciness, flavor liking, and overall liking increased with increasing fat content (P < 0.05). However, Wagyu and Australian samples did not follow this trend for flavor and overall liking. A decrease in consumer acceptability of each palatability trait was observed as fat level decreased (P < 0.05). Consumer overall liking was correlated (P < 0.05) with consumer tenderness (r = 0.76) and juiciness ratings (r = 0.73), but most highly correlated with flavor liking (r = 0.88). Results of this study indicated that increased fat level in beef strip steaks positively affected tenderness, juiciness, flavor liking, and overall liking of beef strip steaks. Moreover, flavor liking was the most highly correlated palatability trait with overall liking. In US-sourced samples, fat level had a large effect on the flavor liking of beef as determined by consumers.
- Strip loin