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Introducing an Angle Adjustable Cutting Box for Analyzing Slice Shear Force in Meat

Published: April 26th, 2013



1Lacombe Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2Grupo de investigación MERAGEM, Universidad de Córdoba, 3Department of Animal Science, University of Nebraska

Slice shear force is a reference method for beef texture analysis. Using an angle adjustable cutting box could increase its accuracy for research purposes. The results from different locations within the longissimus muscle show a high correlation with Warner-Bratzler shear force methodology and high potential adaptability for different muscles.

Research indicates the fibre angle of the longissimus muscle can vary, depending upon location within a steak and throughout the muscle. Instead of using the original fixed 45 ° or 90 ° cutting angle for testing shear force, a variable angle cutting box can be adjusted so the angles of the knives correspond to the fibre angle of each sample. Within 2 min after cooking to an internal temperature of 71 °C on an open-hearth grill set at 210 °C, a 1 cm by 5 cm core is cut from the steak, parallel to muscle fibre direction, using 2 knife blades set 1 cm apart. This warm core is then subjected to the Slice Shear Force protocol (SSF) to evaluate meat texture. The use of the variable angle cutting box and the SSF protocol provides an accurate representation of the maximal shear force, as the slice and muscle fibres are consistently parallel. Therefore, the variable angle cutting box, in conjunction with the SSF protocol, can be used as a high-throughput technique to accurately evaluate meat tenderness in different locations of the longissimus muscle and, potentially, in other muscles.

Tenderness is one of the most important quality attributes in meat1. Inconsistency in beef tenderness has been identified as one of the major problems facing the beef industry2. The Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF) test, characterized by a triangular hole in a precisely machined shear plate, is the most widespread method used to indicate meat sensory tenderness3,4, as it is the instrumental method that arguably has shown the best correlation with sensory panel scores for meat toughness5. However, the slice shear force protocol (SSF) has become an important technique for analyzing muscle texture and tenderness6, ....

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1. Steak Collection

  1. Following grading at 24 hr - 48 hr post slaughter, the longissimus muscle (either the thoracic and/or lumborum end) is removed from beef carcasses and collected for quality analysis.
  2. The muscle is trimmed of subcutaneous fat and squared off. The muscle is then cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) steaks following safety and food handling protocols. Following the cutting of individual steaks, appropriate labels (animal number, side, muscle location, or time) are pl.......

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Thirty-one finished commercial beef steers were slaughtered and their carcasses (528 - 601 kg) were split. In order to create variability in tenderness, right sides were immediately stored at 2 °C, while the left sides were held at 10 °C for 3 hr and then at 2 °C. The longissimus muscles from right and left sides were removed 24 hr after slaughter. Samples from the right sides ("TOUGH" treatment) were analyzed that day, while samples from the left side ("TENDER" treatment) were aged for 6 d before be.......

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The angle adjustable box ensures the SSF blade always shears muscle fibres at a true perpendicular angle, rather than approximately perpendicular which could happen with a fixed 45 ° angle cut8. The application of the variable angle cutting box allows for more accurate depictions of the maximal shear force in a sample, and it is on this basis of improving objective quality analysis techniques that the variable angle cutting box was developed. Furthermore, the wide range of angles presented by the angle adj.......

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This study was part of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada A-Base project "Development of high-throughput techniques for meat samples to reduce the phenomic gap for multivariate quality traits in marker assisted selection". The skilled assistance of the Beef Unit and Meat Processing staff at the Lacombe Research Centre are sincerely appreciated. The authors also wish to thank the dedicated technical assistance of Christine Burbidge-Boyd, Fran Costello, Glynnis Croken and Rhona Thacker.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Name of equipment Company Catalogue number
Vacuum Packager Koch Equipment, Kansas City, MO, USA Model UV2100
Vacuum bags Winpak Ltd., Winnipeg, MB, Canada  
Thermocouples and Scanning Device Agilent / Hewlett Packard, Santa Clara, CA, USA 34970A Data Acquisition Switch Unit
Grill Garland Commercial Ranges Ltd., Mississauga, ON, Canada Model ED-30-B
Crisco Vegetable Shortening The J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, OH, USA  
Sample sizing box G-R Manufacturing Co., Manhattan, KS, USA  
Angle adjustable box Innovation Centre, Red Deer College, Red Deer, AB, Canada  
Texture Analyzer Machine Texture Technologies, Hamilton, MA, USA Model TA-XT Plus
Load Cell, 50 kg Texture Technologies, Hamilton, MA, USA TA-XT Plus
USDA Warner-Bratzler knife w/guillotine block Texture Technologies, Hamilton, MA, USA TA-7
Flat rectangle Blade for Slice Shear Force Texture Technologies, Hamilton, MA, USA TA-7C

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