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Exploring Consumer Palatability Of Australian Beef Fajita Meat Enhanced With Phosphate Or Sodium Bicarbonate

Andrea Garmyn, Nicholas Hardcastle, Clay Bendele, Rod Polkinghorne, Mark Miller

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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.