Study Finds Thawing Methods Do Not Impact Beef Quality

By Trish Svoboda

According to research conducted by a graduate student at Kansas State University, Lindsey Decker, the process of thawing appears to have no effect on the quality of beef when it reaches the consumer’s table, according to a release.

“With the rise in direct-to-consumer beef marketing, and consumers more frequently freezing beef due to supply chain disruptions,” Decker said. “It was our goal to determine whether the method of thawing beef steaks affected sensory characteristics and instrumental quality measures,” Lindsey Decker said.

Decker pointed out that while the USDA provides numerous methods for defrosting frozen beef, there’s a lack of information on how the thawing process affects the quality of the beef and the dining experience of the consumer.

In her research, Decker evaluated several thawing techniques recommended by the USDA, such as defrosting in the refrigerator, microwave, and cold water, as well as cooking straight from the frozen state. In addition, she examined two methods frequently used by consumers: defrosting in hot water and defrosting at room temperature on the countertop. Decker collaborated with both trained sensory panelists and regular consumers in her study.

“Our trained panelists were trained over several days to determine specific quality characteristics, such as beef flavor attributes, connective tissue level, or juiciness, while consumers were pulled from the Manhattan area and had no training,” Decker said. “The goal of running all of these tests was to find any differences caused by the various thawing methods; whether they were detectable by consumers; and provide further context to those results through the instrumental measures.”

Decker said as a whole, the thawing method does not impact the palatability. She said consumers should choose whichever method best suits them, and to always take food safety into consideration.

Decker’s full report is available online from K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry.

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