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Posts tagged: beef

“USDA Tender” – A Cooperative Effort with the U.S. Beef Industry

USDA worked with academia and industry over the past several years to develop a system to determine beef tenderness, using an objective scale to ensure that cuts with the new label consistently meet consumer expectations.

USDA worked with academia and industry over the past several years to develop a system to determine beef tenderness, using an objective scale to ensure that cuts with the new label consistently meet consumer expectations.

Tenderness is one of the most significant factors affecting the overall consumer acceptance of beef cuts.  Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Beef Quality Grading program is a useful tool in predicting overall consumer acceptance of beef, other factors besides those assessed by the USDA Quality Grading System affect beef tenderness.  In other words, beef that may not grade to the highest USDA Quality Grade (USDA Select or Choice vs. USDA Prime) may in fact be rated just as tender by consumers.  Similarly, certain cuts of beef, no matter how high their USDA Quality Grade, may not be as tender for some consumers.

To address these issues and provide consumers with a more useful purchasing tool, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) worked with academia and industry to develop an accurate system to determine when consumers perceive beef cuts to be either tender or very tender.  Based on an objective scale, the system ensures that specific beef cuts consistently meet these established thresholds.  Thanks to the collaborative efforts between AMS and these groups, approved beef processors can now market products as USDA-Certified Tender or Very Tender through product labeling, advertisements, and promotions. Read more »

NIFA Grant Addresses Climate Issues Related to Beef Cattle Production

Today, I am on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. When I visit universities across the nation, I look forward to meeting with faculty and students to hear about the work they are doing. On this particular visit, I am excited to meet with a research team working on an issue important to all Americans: climate.

As most people are well aware, last year’s drought put tremendous stress on cattle across the nation, especially in the Southern Great Plains. Drought, along with other extreme weather events and climate patterns, threatens food production across the nation. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided grant funds to land-grant universities across our nation to develop approaches to mitigate or adapt to the impact of climate change on food production. Earlier this year, NIFA awarded more than $9 million in funding to Oklahoma State University (OSU) to address the vulnerabilities of beef cattle under stress from climate variations. OSU’s goal is to safeguard regional beef production against climate change while mitigating the environmental footprint of agriculture. Read more »

Before You Toss Food, Wait. Check It Out!

It’s happened to all of us: you’re looking for something in the freezer or pantry, and discover food that has been forgotten. Your first impulse is to throw it out, but wait!  Is it still good? Chances are it is!

Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months (recommended freezer times chart) may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat. So if you find a package of ground beef that has been in the freezer more than a few months, don’t throw it out. Use it to make chili or tacos. The seasonings and additional ingredients can make up for loss of flavor. Read more »

Scientists’ Secret Ingredient for a Better Burger

Studies have shown that olive powder has potential to suppress the foodborne pathogen E. coli O157:H7 in hamburger patties and to retard the formation of potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines that can form when the burgers are cooked.

Studies have shown that olive powder has potential to suppress the foodborne pathogen E. coli O157:H7 in hamburger patties and to retard the formation of potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines that can form when the burgers are cooked.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Chances are that you—or whoever’s the “grillmaster” at your house—have your own “secret ingredient” for making grilled burgers taste even better.  But it might surprise you to know that  Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their university colleagues also are working on secret ingredient for a better burger, although their interest focuses on food safety rather than flavor.

They’ve been testing the capacity of olive powder, a byproduct of olive processing, as a weapon against Escherichia coli O157:H7, and the powder’s potential to retard the formation of undesirable substances called heterocyclic amines while the patties are being grilled. Read more »

How Corned Beef and Cabbage Became a Holiday Staple

Infographic highlighting the history, anatomy and market of corned beef & cabbage.

Infographic highlighting the history, anatomy and market of corned beef & cabbage. Click to enlarge image.

For most of us in the U.S., corned beef and cabbage is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. But its association with the holiday isn’t an Irish tradition.  It is a uniquely American tradition, a blending of both history and opportunity. Read more »

Audit-Based Beef Grading Can Mean Better Efficiency, Lower Costs

Consumers and industry look for the USDA grade shields as trusted symbols of wholesome, high-quality American beef. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency responsible for grading, continues to explore ways to more efficiently conduct business. Most recently, we used beef instrumentation grading technology to initiate an audit-based Beef Grading Pilot Program at a facility in Toppenish, Washington in August 2012.

Although beef instrumentation grading technology has been in use for several years, it has not reduced the number of graders required at each grading facility until now.  By working with the Meat Graders’ Union, we were able to come to an agreement to pilot a program that would have beef industry employees trained to interpret and apply the Official USDA Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef under the oversight of a USDA meat grader. Read more »