Exploring Consumer Palatability Of Australian Beef Fajita Meat Enhanced With Phosphate Or Sodium Bicarbonate
The objective of this study was to determine the consumer eating quality of five Australian beef muscles (outside skirt/diaphragm, inside skirt/transversus abdominis, inside round cap/gracilis, bottom sirloin flap/obliquus abdominis internus, and flank steak/rectus abdominis) served as fajita strips. All the muscles were divided in half and enhanced (12%) with a brine solution containing either phosphate, a “clean label” ingredient sodium bicarbonate, or not enhanced. Muscle and enhancement independently influenced (P < 0.01) tenderness, juiciness, flavor, and overall liking. Overall, the bottom sirloin flap was liked the most (P < 0.05) when compared with all the other muscles, while the inside round cap was liked less but did not differ (P > 0.05) from the inside skirt or flank steak. Samples enhanced with sodium bicarbonate were the most (P < 0.05) tender and juicy; samples enhanced with phosphate were intermediate, and the control samples were the least tender and juicy, regardless of the muscle. Flavor and overall liking were similar (P > 0.05) between clean and phosphate-enhanced samples, and both were liked more than the control samples. Enhancement was necessary for acceptable eating quality of all the muscles evaluated in this study; however, the inside round cap was the least suitable. These results indicate that a “clean label” enhanced fajita product is possible without compromising cooking yield or consumer satisfaction.