This month, two irradiated hamburger products go on the plates and palates of the BEEF Taste Test Panel - Schwan's (Marshall, MN) "Ground Chuck Beef Burgers" and Huisken (Chandler, MN) "Premium Quality Beef Patties."

Both are frozen, uncooked products. The Schwan's product is the top selling item in the Schwan's line. It's a 48-oz. package of nine, 5.3-oz. burgers that sells for $10.19, available nationwide through Schwan's home delivery service.

Meanwhile, the Huisken product is a 32-oz. package of eight, 4-oz. patties. It sells for a suggested price of $5.49 in grocery stores across the country.

The Schwan's product rated either equal or higher to the Huisken product in every category. The greatest scoring advantages of the Schwan's product came in the sensory factors of flavor, tenderness, texture and juiciness. The Schwan's product, it should be noted, is made from ground chuck.

At an overall rating of 8.72 (10-point scale), Schwan's "Ground Chuck Beef Burgers" rated second only to Red Oak's "Beef Pot Roast" (8.75 overall rating) of the eight convenience beef products the BEEF Taste Test panel has critiqued thus far.

In the individual categories of packaging, convenience and sensory factors, it rated no less than a 4 (on a 5-point scale). Its highest rankings (4.6) came in the completeness of its preparation instructions and nutrition information, as well as its flavor rating.

Panelists liked the larger-sized patty and its juiciness, texture and flavor. "Some of the best hamburger that I've ever tasted. A great product and a great value," wrote one panelist. "Juicy, very good," wrote another.

One panelist, however, felt the product was "too delicate" on the grill and required extra attention to ensure it didn't break up while turning.

The Huisken product rated a 7.5 overall (10-point scale). Panelists lauded the packaging for the completeness of its preparation instructions and nutrition information. They also liked its ease of preparation and preparation time.

On the whole, however, panelists felt the 4-oz. patty size was too small. The product's lowest scores came in texture and juiciness (3.3 on a 5-point scale) and flavor (3.4). It did, however, rank a 4 in tenderness. One panelist called it "an excellent product and very affordable at $2.75/lb."