Beef Products Inc. (BPI), Dakota Dunes, SD, the world’s leading manufacturer of boneless lean beef, has gained its hard-earned leadership status through continuous development and improvement of new processing techniques, sanitation programs, and food-safety innovations. BPI produces 8-to-9 million pounds a week of boneless lean trimmings. As a result of growing demand, the company expects production to hit 10-to-12 million pounds a week within the next two years.
Also a leader in using innovative technology to further enhance the quality and eating experience of steaks, the company released the results from three independent studies conducted by South Dakota State University earlier this year showing that consumers prefer ground beef containing BPI product, as well as steaks treated by BPI technology, over control samples.
But before going over the results of these studies, a closer examination of BPI is in order. Key to BPI’s continuing success is the high priority it places on guarding and improving food safety, as well as enhancing product quality. Its food-safety focus begins at the very first step in the process: raw-product procurement. Only those suppliers with validated critical control points (CCPs) are used as raw-material vendors.
Innovative processes also play a key role in the company’s continuing success. For example, BPI holds exclusive rights to a patented pH enhancement process that reduces harmful bacteria in ground-meat products. During the processing of BPI® Boneless Lean Beef, the pH level in the meat is naturally elevated through the creation of a small amount of ammonium hydroxide. Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration, ammonium hydroxide is a natural constituent in meats, and it is no stranger to other food categories including carbonated beverages, baked goods, cheese, gelatin, chocolate, and pudding. BPI® Boneless Lean Beef is approved for unrestricted use in ground beef and hamburger, with no labeling restrictions.
The result of this pH-enhancement process is a major reduction in any potential food-borne pathogens. Raising the pH level — combined with BPI’s other innovative processing steps, including rapid freezing by a company-designed Roller Press Freezer, chipping, block compression of the product, among other things— has a dramatic effect on unwanted bacteria, which thrive in lower pH environments. The National Food Laboratories and Iowa State University have scientifically validated the BPI process as a food-safety intervention.
BPI’s finished product sampling and testing program is the most rigorous in the industry. Quality-assurance personnel draw a small sample of BPI product from each carton as it is being filled or approximately every 10 seconds from the chip flow. This sample then becomes part of a composite sample representing each box on a pallet. The composite sample is analyzed for fat, moisture, and protein. Each box is bar coded, and this information is entered into a corporate QA computerized pallet-and-box, bar-code tracking system.
Throughout each production day, composite samples are sent to an outside laboratory for microbial testing. Tests include total plate count, E. coli, Coliform, Salmonella, Listeria, Staph, and E. coli O157:H7. A daily composite is also sent to an outside laboratory to test for Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP). GFAP is unique to the tissues of the central nervous system (CNS). BPI confirms with the laboratory that the representative daily product composite samples were tested for any exposure to GFAP-CNS tissue and no evidence was found. All microbial information, including a GFAP result, is entered into the QA computerized pallet and box-tracking system.
Product is not released for shipment without a completed microbial profile, including a negative E. coli O157:H7 result and confirmation of no evidence of GFAP-CNS tissue.
BPI is constantly searching for better ways to produce safer, better-quality products. As a result of its research on grinding temperatures and grinding hole sizes, the company determined that grinding BPI® Boneless Lean Beef at 0ÞF through a 1/4-inch tapered hole plate can, as a portion of the overall meat block, enhance the color and particle definition of ground beef. Thus, the BPI product blends more evenly, which results in lower microbial counts throughout the entire meat block.
Speed of processing also plays a major role in the safety and quality of BPI products. The time elapsed between product entering the process to a finished package is only seven-to-nine minutes.
BPI’s unique product, which is derived from USDA-inspected trimmings, typically is finished as a 94-percent lean, frozen-beef product in the form of small free-flowing Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) chips or chips compressed into 60-pound blocks. This product is both a quality and economical portion of the lean boneless beef included in most product formulations.
BPI customers throughout the United States include most quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains; hotel, restaurant, institution (HRI) suppliers; and foodservice suppliers. Major packers and processors commonly use BPI® Boneless Lean Beef as an integral part of their retail ground beef or hamburger blends. What’s more, BPI product is also approved for use in USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) school lunch program.
Bottom line: If a finished meat product contains lean beef, it likely contains BPI product. Finished products include frozen hamburger patties; fresh retail ground beef (bulk and either high-oxygen or low-oxygen modified atmosphere packaging); low-fat hotdogs; taco meat; lunch meat; chili; beef-stick snacks; sausages, pepperoni, and other encased meats; retail frozen entrées; meatballs; fabricated roast beef; and canned foods.
The BPI difference
Given an opportunity to compare the taste and quality of products containing BPI® Boneless Lean Beef against those that aren’t, BPI executives have always been confident that consumers would prefer items containing BPI product. Company executives have been relaying this message for years to existing and prospective customers. To further support this point, BPI recently commissioned a series of third-party consumer tests on ground beef containing BPI product, as well as steaks treated by a BPI process against control products. The results of these studies soundly back up what BPI has been saying all along — consumers do prefer products made with BPI lean beef.
Two of the three studies focused on ground beef:
Consumer Ratings of Palatability of Cooked Ground Beef Patties Containing 0, 15, 20, and 25 percent Lean Beef Trimmings at 80 and 90 Percent Lean Content —Prepared by Robert Maddock and Jonathon Spronk, South Dakota State University, and published April 23, 2004.
An Evaluation of Fresh Ground Beef Display Life and Palatability of Cooked Ground Beef Patties from Fresh Ground Beef Containing Various Levels of Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings at 80 and 90 Percent Lean Content —Prepared by Robert Maddock and Duane Wulf, South Dakota State University, published July 8, 2004.
In the first study, 119 consumers rated the palatability traits of cooked ground-beef patties containing BPI lean beef trimmings against control patties. The average consumer in this study was between 20- and 30-years old, consumed beef approximately six times a week, ate ground beef patties two times a week, and was male. Test-panel consumers rated the cooked patties for overall like, tenderness, juiciness, texture, and flavor. Not surprising to BPI executives, consumers rated the patties containing 15-, 20-, and 25-percent BPI lean beef significantly higher for all palatability traits versus control patties at both 80- and 90-percent lean. What’s more, cooking-loss-yield-gain was between 3 and 5 percent less for patties containing BPI lean beef trimmings.
In the second test, eight treatment combinations consisting of 80-percent lean with 0-, 10-, 15-, and 20-percent boneless lean beef trimmings —and 90-percent lean with 0-, 15-, 20-, and 25-percent boneless lean beef trimmings were evaluated for display life, consumer ratings of preference, and trained sensory panel ratings of palatability traits. Again, the results validate BPI’s beliefs on consumer product preference:
Panel evaluations of color concluded that packages containing BPI lean beef had higher (more desirable) color scores for a longer period of time and had less discoloration than control packages.
Objective color measurements showed packages containing BPI boneless lean beef had a two- to three-day improvement in acceptable retail display life versus control samples for 80-percent lean and 90-percent lean, respectively.
Consumers rated cooked ground beef patties containing BPI boneless lean beef significantly higher for overall like, tenderness, juiciness, and flavor than control samples.
Trained test panels also rated cooked ground beef patties containing BPI boneless lean beef to be tenderer, juicy, and have firmer texture than control samples.
The third study focused on the enhancement of steak with a patented BPI process. A wide range of consumers was represented in the consumer panel, and most panelists were moderate-to- heavy beefeaters. Strip loin and eye of round subprimals from Limousin cattle and Certified Angus Beef (CAB) boxed beef were tested. Cooked steaks including control and BPI-enhanced subprimal halves were rated by 288 consumers. Once again the end results did not surprise BPI:
PI-enhanced steaks were rated substantially higher than control steaks, regardless of beef sources or cut, for overall like, tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.
When asked, “Would you be likely to purchase this steak?” a higher percentage of consumers responded “Yes” for the BPI-enhanced steaks versus control steaks.
This BPI process reduced the variability among animals/subprimals. The patented BPI process resulted in the greatest improvement on the least-acceptable beef, researchers concluded. This process substantially lowered shear force of cooked steaks resulting in a better eating experience. Before enhancement, for example, Limousin strip steaks were rated lower than control CAB strip steaks. After enhancement, there was little difference between Limousin and CAB strip steaks. In fact, Limousin eye-of-round steaks were tenderer than CAB eye-of-round steaks — but the BPI process improved both types, research further reveals.
In looking to the future, BPI is committed to remain the leading supplier of high-quality lean beef to the meat industry through continued innovation and an unwavering focus on providing superior-quality products. NP
For more information on BPI or the previously mentioned tests, phone (605) 217-8000, fax (605) 217-8001, or visit www.beefproducts.com