National Beef Tenderness Survey – 2015

Aug 06, 2018

National Beef Tenderness Survey – 2015

steakTenderness is often found to be the most important factor of beef eating satisfaction.  To determine trends in tenderness, the National Beef Tenderness Survey is utilized.  Since 1998, five of these studies have been conducted to provide a resource for consumers on retail and foodservice beef tenderness.  In the 2015 survey, steaks analyzed from retail chains included the top blade or “flat iron”, ribeye (boneless and bone-in), top loin or “strip loin” (boneless and bone-in), T-bone, porterhouse, top sirloin, and top and bottom round.  However, since steaks cooked by restaurants are normally only high-quality cuts, tenderness differences were only analyzed in ribeye, top loin, and top sirloin steaks within the foodservice industry.

Tenderness of steaks was determined by Warner-Bratzler Shear (WBS) force, an objective measurement of tenderness, and by consumer sensory panel evaluation.  The most tender steak based on WBS force values was the boneless top loin for both retail and foodservice cuts.  Tenderness categories ranging from Very tender to tough can be determined based on WBS force values.  Of the retail cuts analyzed, 5 had over 90% of their steaks fall into the very tender category, those were: the top blade, boneless ribeye, boneless top loin, T-bone, and porterhouse.  Bottom round had the lowest percentage of very tender steaks and the highest percentage in the tough category.  For foodservice steaks, boneless top loins had the highest percentage in very tender.  Finally, consumer sensory panelists determined that top and bottom round steaks had the worst overall liking, tenderness liking, and tenderness level, while the top blade and porterhouse had the highest tenderness liking and tenderness level.  In foodservice steaks, top sirloin had the lowest overall liking, tenderness liking, and tenderness level.

These results indicate that cuts from the round (top and bottom) are the least likable cuts to consumers.  This is largely due to the decreased tenderness of these muscles.  However, different cooking applications can be utilized to increase the tenderness of these muscles.  When purchasing beef products, cooking methods as well as degree of doneness should always be considered to deliver the most positive eating experience possible.


Martinez, H. A., A. N. Arnold, J. C. Brooks, C. C. Carr, K. B. Gehring, D. B. Griffin, D. S. Hale, G. G. Mafi, D. D. Johnson, C. L. Lorenzen, R. J. Maddock, R. K. Miller, D. L. VanOverbeke, B. E. Wasser, and J. W. Savell. 2017. National Beef Tenderness Survey-2015: Palatability and Shear Force Assessments of Retail and Foodservice Beef. Meat and Muscle Biology. 1:128-148. Doi:10/22175/mmb2017.05.0028

Photo courtesy of Certified Hereford Beef

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