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Keywords:

  • beef;
  • phosphate;
  • salt;
  • sensory

Abstract:  The impact of 2 different brines on the palatability and tenderness of select beef strip loin steaks was evaluated. Brines were differentiated by the type of alkaline agent, 4.5% sodium-based phosphate (control brine; CON) or 1% ammonium hydroxide (ammonium hydroxide treatment; AHT), incorporated into the formula. Injected steaks were placed in high oxygen (80% O2/20% CO2) MAP, stored 4 d at 4 °C in dark storage to simulate transportation, and then placed in retail display. Steaks were selected randomly on day 0, 7, and 14 retail display to measure pH, cook loss, shear force, and sensory characteristics. The pH for AHT steaks (pH 5.96) was slightly higher than CON steaks (pH 5.86; P < 0.05). Cook loss was lower (21%) for CON than AHT steaks (23%). There was neither a treatment nor day effect on tenderness as measured by Warner–Braztler shear force (P > 0.05). Sensory evaluation indicated that on day 0, retail display the initial juiciness, sustained juiciness, tenderness 1st impression, tenderness overall impression, and connective tissue in AHT steaks was not different from CON steaks (P > 0.05). A day effect (decrease) for those sensory parameters was observed only for sustained juiciness (P < 0.05). AHT steaks were rated higher in cooked beef flavor while CON steaks were higher in peppery and salty flavor. There was no difference in soapy and ammonia intensity between treatments. Results indicated that despite lower performance in cook loss the replacement of 4.5% sodium-based phosphate in a meat injection brine with 1% ammonium hydroxide produced a beef loin steak with comparable tenderness and palatability.

Practical Application:  The research in this study compares steaks that have been injected with a commercial brine formulated with sodium phosphates to steaks that have been injected with a brine where the sodium phosphate in the formulation was replaced with 1% ammonium hydroxide. Ammonium hydroxide is an USDA-FSIS approved ingredient in brines injected into fresh meats. Successful replacement of sodium phosphate with ammonium hydroxide would allow processors to significantly reduce the sodium content of injected fresh meat.